Sleep apnea is a disorder wherein you stop breathing during the night – one medical expert claimed to have seen patients who stopped breathing 100 times every hour! Most of the time, sleep apnea is of the obstructive variety, which means the throat muscles relax to the point that not enough oxygen is taken into the lungs. The sufferer then awakens to open his or her airways.
Another type of sleep apnea, called central sleep apnea, results when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles of the airways. Sometimes, sleep apnea is the result of a combination of these. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. In a sleep lab, professionals can diagnose the disorder and work toward appropriate treatment.