What are the different types of sleep apnea? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines sleep apnea as the sensation or stoppage of airflow for at least 10 seconds. And they usually divide it up into three broad categories: obstructive sleep apnea, which is the stoppage of airflow usually at the supraglottic area which is right above the throat, at the base of the tongue, or in the tonsil area. The next type is something called the central sleep apnea, which is usually secondary to the sensation of airflow secondary to loss of respiratory drive and this is usually associated with central nervous disorders or lung disorders. And the last type is a mixture or combination of both and it's called a mixed apnea. It starts with a central apnea for the first part of the episode and then followed by obstructive sleep apnea during the second half of the episode.