According to the Mayo Clinic common symptoms of sleep apnea include hypersomnia, heavy snoring, a temporary inability to breath, abrupt awakenings short of breath, morning headaches, and attention problems. There are two primary types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. The American Sleep Apnea Association notes that African-American and Hispanic men experience sleep apnea more frequently than people of other ethnic groups, and in general men experience sleep apnea more often than women.
The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, is an over-relaxation of the throat tissue, which causes blockage and the inability to breathe. Mild obstructions are common during upper-respiratory infections, but chronic obstructions can be symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. The National Institute of Health explains that the loud snoring exhibited by obstructive sleep apnea patients is the result of air making noise while traveling through the obstructing tissue.
Cheyne-stokes respiration, another name for central sleep apnea, is a neurological variant of sleep apnea. The respiratory system cycles between apnea and hyperapnea, or fast breathing. This neurological condition is the result of an imbalance in the brain's respiratory control centers and a delay in the neurological mechanism that measures carbon dioxide levels in the blood.