Sleep disorders are part of a broad category encompassing of variety of conditions that affect sleep. Some sleep disorders, like insomnia, prevent sleep from occurring at all. Sleep apnea is different. Instead of keeping you awake, sleep apnea severely impairs the sleep you do get.
No matter what you do, you cannot get enough sleep. And night after night, you go to bed hoping that tonight will be different. Tonight you won't snore. You'll have a good night's rest and wake up tomorrow morning feeling refreshed. But it's always the same. You always feel terrible in the morning. Day after day, you're utterly exhausted. You catch yourself falling asleep while driving, in meetings, talking to friends.
Sleep apnea is an unpleasant experience. The passageways from your nose and mouth to your lungs partially or even completely close, resulting in heavy breathing and snoring. Air can't get to your lungs and the excess of Carbon Dioxide sends signals to your brain, forcing you to waking up gasping for air. You won't be aware of anything happening, but you'll be exhausted the next morning, and will probably have a headache.
There are two type of sleep apnea: Central and Obstructive. Central sleep apnea is a central nervous system disorder where your brain does not send signals telling your body to breath. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when throat and tongue muscles relax during sleep, blocking your airway. Obesity also plays a role in obstructive sleep apnea: excess tissue in the throat can narrow your air passage, making it difficult to breath.
Both types have a variety of treatments. One option for obstructive sleep apnea is surgery. Removing excess tissue around your throat, or strengthening the support of your soft palate, among other types of surgeries can improve your airflow and prevent sleep apnea. Additionally, there is are several types of breathing machines that pump pressurized air through the nose and mouth all night. The machines keep your airway open, and keep oxygen flowing.