The diagnosing and treating of sleep disorders have increased significantly in recent years. It’s not necessarily a case of people sleeping any worse than they have for decades, but more a result of attention finally being paid to these serious medical conditions.
Of course, some sleep disorders have received far more attention than others. And one condition in particular, catathrenia, has not been as closely examined or taken as seriously as perhaps it should be. So, why has that been the case?
Unfairly Connected to Sleep Apnea
As a parasomnia condition, catathrenia is often lumped in with conditions like sleep apnea. However, the conditions are distinct from one another. A person with this will take a deep breath, hold it for up to thirty seconds, and then groan or make a high-pitched squeak as they exhale. Many people will confuse the sound with snoring. However, snoring is done by sleepers while they are inhaling. With this sleep disorder, the groaning sound is made while the person exhales and follows an overt delay after they inhaled their breath.
Medical professionals will sometimes see this condition as being similar to sleep apnea. They will even offer the same treatment as sleep apnea, which is usually the use of a CPAP machine. CPAP can be an effective treatment, but that doesn’t mean the condition is the same as sleep apnea. There has been no direct medical connection made between catathrenia and sleep apnea, despite the former being so closely associated with the latter.
Not a Life-Threatening Condition
Another reason why little attention is paid to catathrenia is that it’s not considered a life-threatening condition. While serious cases of sleep apnea can cause severe damage to a person’s health and potentially cause death, everything we know indicates that it results in minimal amounts of oxygen desaturation. In short, no one’s going to die because from the aforementioned disorder, and therefore, there is little urgency to study it further.
With that being said, the condition is not without symptoms and side effects. People with this disorder have been known to suffer from sore throats, fatigue, and dizziness. The groaning and other sounds they make can also be disturbing to their partners who may be sharing a bed with them. While those are not major consequences of living with it, the condition can indirectly create problems in a person’s social and professional life if their sleep or the sleep of those close to them is negatively affected on a regular basis.
Many Theories but Few Facts
It’s also easy to ignore catathrenia compared to other sleep disorders because there is so little concrete information about the disease. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence and a wide-array of theories that help us to shed light to some extent. However, there is little we can do about the condition with a high degree of certainty.
For instance, there is some evidence to suggest that it’s a psychological condition that’s linked to stress and anxiety. Some have also reported catathrenia accompanying stressful dreams. Other studies have found a loose connection between catathrenia and athletes who regularly hold their breath while training and competing, such as weightlifters and swimmers. There is also speculation that people with small jaws are more likely to experience it. This theory had created a connection between the disorder and people who may have needed orthodontic work or teeth extractions when they were younger.
Some have even suggested that certain medications cause catathrenia. But the truth is that there’s little that we know for sure because there are so few medical professionals and sleep disorder experts who take the condition seriously enough to inspire serious studies.