What is sleep apnea? Basically, sleep apnea is stopping breathing while you're asleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. That is when the soft palette and the tongue collapse and close the airway to the lungs. These events may occur hundreds of times throughout the night, disrupting your sleep. This will lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness. Other symptoms associated with sleep apnea include memory failure, hypertension which could lead to strokes and heart attacks.