Summary: Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition characterized by repetitive obstruction of the upper airway often resulting in oxygen desaturation and arousals from sleep. The classic daytime manifestation is excessive sleepiness but other symptoms such as unrefreshing sleep, poor concentration and fatigue are commonly reported. Over the past thirty years many types of abnormal breathing during sleep have been described that are related to, but not accurately described as apneas. Partial airway obstruction can lead to a reduction in tidal volume, referred to as a hypopnea, with the same consequences as an apnea. Even more subtle abnormalities have been described such as progressive increases in respiratory effort, reflecting increasing upper airway resistance, that terminate after an arousal.