Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which breathing stops during sleep for 10 seconds or more, sometimes more than 300 times a night. The hallmark of the disorder is excessive daytime sleepiness and compromised quality of life, including significant social and emotional problems. There are two main types of sleep apnea. "Obstructive sleep apnea" may represent cessation of breathing due to mechanical blockage of the airway; "central sleep apnea" appears to be related to a malfunction of the brain's normal signal to breathe. Symptoms of sleep apnea may include restless sleep, loud, heavy snoring (often interrupted by silence and then gasps), falling asleep while driving and/or during the day (at work, watching TV, etc.), morning headaches, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, irritability, forgetfulness, mood or behavior changes, anxiety or depression, obesity, and decreased interest in sex. Not all people with sleep apnea experience all of these symptoms and not everyone who has these symptoms has sleep apnea.
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