· Article

Best Gift a Husband Can Give …

· Article

Best Gift a Husband Can Give ...


My favorite bicycle ride of the year approached, but my body seemed to mysteriously slow down, at just the wrong time.

I lost a favorite cousin to AIDS, and so the 100-mile Ride for AIDS the weekend after Labor Day, taking me from Harbor Country in southwest Michigan to my hometown of Chicago, was one of the most important days on my calendar.

My fundraising was successful, but when it came to my cycling, I just wasn’t ready. I had done the ride once before, and I knew how important preparation was. But my time on the bike wasn’t what it had been in the past.

I woke up at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday mornings for long rides, pedaled for 40 or 50 miles, downed water, and drank a protein shake as soon as I parked my bike at home. But I still felt wrong. I was slowing down week to week during the first two months of training. I was cranky throughout the ride. I wasn’t enjoying cycling as I had in the past.

I poured over every bit of data collected on the cycling apps on my phone, but I could not figure out what was wrong with me.

My husband recognized the problem well before I did. He asked about my bedtime, my wake-up routine, and if I felt rested. I waved him off, but each question stuck in my mind.

While I was in bed by 8:30 p.m. on Friday nights, it took me hours to fall asleep. As time ticked by, I thought incessantly about how I needed to sleep, which didn’t help me sleep. If my dog or husband stirred, I would jolt awake. Many times, I woke after just a few hours. I wasn’t waking up rested.

A day later, I admitted to my husband that he was right. The little bit of sleep I could manage was off, and that affected my rides. I wasn’t prepared for cycling, and I wasn’t sleeping well the night after, either. He smiled, and said, “I’ve got this.”

The next Friday night, I walked into our bedroom and found a diffuser filled with lavender essential oil. An extra pillow lay on my side of the bed. Everything in our bed was arranged to make me more comfortable, and hopefully, more sleepy.

The changes to our bedroom soothed me, and more importantly, they worked. Every night of the week, I found myself falling asleep more easily. On nights before rides, when my husband knew it was even more important for me to sleep with no distractions, he would grab the dog and slip out of our bedroom to sleep on the couch.

My rides improved. My mood improved. I woke up excited to get on my bike. By the time my century ride rolled around, I was eager — and ready — to ride those 100 miles. My husband paying attention to my sleep changed everything.

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