Ian RuderAt some point in the last 10 years, I started sleeping like a baby — not the angelic cherubs that gave rise to the saying “slept like a baby,” but the needy insomniacs that wake up every two hours.

The nights of putting my head on the pillow and falling into a deep, refreshing sleep gave way to a frustrating blend of lying in bed, watching mindless videos and occasionally drifting off.

I replaced any hopes of attaining the fabled eight hours of sleep with metaphorically crossing my quad fingers and praying for a solitary stretch of four straight hours without waking up.

I knew my new normal couldn’t be healthy, but my struggles slowly infected my perception of what constituted a good night’s sleep. I disregarded the fact I’d often catch myself drifting off after lunch, and I adjusted to constantly feeling achy and exhausted. I learned to be careful with a glass of red wine and to embrace coffee after 39 years of avoidance.

But this last year it all got to be too much to ignore. Between struggling to focus and immediately forgetting passages I’d just read, the evidence was right in front of my tired face: I had a problem.

I got a referral to a sleep doctor who affirmed what I knew: Sleep apnea is very common — even more so among quadriplegics — and highly treatable with a CPAP or BiPAP machine. Despite countless people telling me how the breathing masks have grown less cumbersome and Lecter-ish, I’ve fervently resisted the notion of even considering one. No more.

When I went to the hospital for my overnight sleep study, I was actually excited for any mask — no matter how hide