Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing or slowed breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. Sleep apnea is classified as mild, moderate or severe, based on the number of times per hour breathing stops (apnea) or slows (hypopnea).
Three main types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of impeded airflow during sleep, such as from narrowed airways. Factors such as obesity often contribute to obstructive sleep apnea.
- Central sleep apnea results from a problem with the brain signaling the breathing muscles. This type of apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.
- Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.