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A Good Night's Sleep: May 9, 2011

Each night, when Milt Ngegy climbed into bed he feared it might be his last. "I started waking up at night, gasping for air, my chest was pounding" he says " and you're afraid to go back to sleep because you think you're going to die"

Milt is among the 12 million Americans with sleep apnea. People with this condition actually stop breathing for at least 10 seconds. Milt underwent a sleep study and found he had 283 episodes in one night.

Dr. Javaad Khan is a sleep specialist with Lee Memorial Health System. He was able to help Milt breathe easier by introducing him to a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, also known as a mask."It is one of the most common, the gold standard, forms of treating severe sleep apnea" Dr. Khan says.

The mask is an interface that flushes pressurized air into the back of the throat to keep the airway open. As more people are diagnosed with this condition, more manufacturers are making masks to fit everyone's comfort level.

Milt didn't go with a full mask, which covers the nose and mouth, he selected what are called nasal pillows which fit into the nose. Dr. Khan tells his patients there are options to fit everyone's individual preferences. "The best mask is the one that you find the most comfortable" he says, "So if they go through 100 different masks, I always tell the listen there is 200 out there"

60% percent of sleep apnea patients stick with their mask and enjoy a good night's sleep.