Each pause in breathing is called an apnea. Sleep apnea is sleeping disorder that consists of pauses in an apnea can last anywhere from ten seconds to several minutes. In sufferers of sleep apnea, this can occur 5 to 30 times per hour or more, causing shallow and/or infrequent breathing during sleep.
There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea. In CSA, the disorder is characterized by lack of respiratory effort, in OSA breathing is interrupted by a a physical blocking of airflow despite respiratory effort. Suffers of the condition may start to experience sleepiness or fatigue due to their symptoms and level of sleep disturbance. Both adults and children can suffer from sleep apnea.