Three years ago, doctors diagnosed former NFL player Aaron Taylor with sleep apnea.

When he first learned of his particular condition, Taylor immediately thought about friend and former teammate Reggie White, who died in 2004 from sleep apnea.

“Reggie was in the back of my mind when I first started dealing with this,” Taylor said. “I had to do something about this not only for myself, but for my family.”

The former Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers lineman’s wife noticed he snored and didn’t breath 12 to 18 times an hour. So he took a test that diagnosed him with sleep apnea and now uses a CPAP machine, a device that delivers continuous positive airway pressure.

Taylor speaks with local sleep doctors and sleep apnea patients about Wake Up to Sleep, a support system with coaches for those who suffer from the condition. On Thursday, Taylor visited the Phoenix Medical Group’s PM Sleep Center in Glendale.

“At first I didn’t even wear the CPAP machine because I was frustrated, since it was very uncomfortable and hard to sleep in at first,” said Taylor. “But I received some help and emotional support from trained professionals who helped me cope with this.”

Since then, Taylor has spoken out about sleep apnea and Wake Up to Sleep. The organization provides people with coaches for support throughout part of the process.

Dr. Dan Belen with the PM Sleep Center said he’s appreciative that Taylor is a spokesman for the organization and talks about sleep apnea.

Belen said studies have shown that anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of the population have sleep apnea.

“It’s a very undiagnosed condition, and if you snore and are very tired throughout the day you might want to have a sleep test done,” Belen said.

Taylor said he feels so much better since the diagnosis and using the CPAP machine.

“I practically have all of my energy back and that’s great for both me and my family,” he said.

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