Sleep apnea is upper airway obstruction and how it affects sleep, and it affects 5 - 15% of Americans. Individuals who have this condition are usually obese, over 40, smoke and/or drink alcohol. Also, facial structure, such as a shorter jaw), can affect and obstruct airways during sleep.
Ways to know if you have sleep apnea is to have your sleeping partner inform you of how you sleep. If you snore and are sleepy throughout the day or wake up with headaches, you may have the condition. Once you find these things out, you can have a sleep study done.
The gold standard in treatment of sleep apnea is to use a breathing mechanism called a breathing mask, which forces oxygen down into your airways. If this is not an option, you can also have surgery.