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Insider Story: Roller Hockey Player, Gary

· Article

Insider Story: Roller Hockey Player, Gary

“Hockey has always been part of my life,” Gary Horn says. He was in elementary school when his local heroes, the Philadelphia Flyers, won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, as young Gary listened on the radio, cheering them on. But it wasn’t until he was 30 years old that Gary first played organized hockey, pulling on a jersey and joining a team—and it wasn’t on ice skates but on Rollerblades.


At the time, he says, “I had trouble going up the stairs and getting out of breath, so I had to do something—and I’m not a gym guy.” He found a roller hockey league near his house, in New Jersey, signed up, and he’s been playing ever since, more than twenty years, although he no longer plays in a competitive league but on a more informal basis, with guys who don’t keep score. For Gary, it’s all about the love of the game and the camaraderie. “You still have the same puck battles in the corners and we battle really hard,” he says, “but after the game, there’s no animosity”—it’s more enjoyable because it’s not quite as serious.


The very nature of roller hockey makes it more enjoyable, Gary says. Rink time is less expensive than it would be for ice hockey, and equipment costs less. Here you can get away with a pair of skates, some basic shin pads, a jersey, a helmet and a mouth guard. And when you do get hit with the puck, it’s not as heavy— “You get a little bit of a bruise instead of a nasty welt.”


Hockey helps keep Gary in shape, and a good night’s sleep also provides an important supporting role, not just on the rink but in his everyday life. For years, Gary and his wife, Anjie, couldn’t find a bed that would work for both of them. There was the mattress Gary’s mother gave them back in 1996, and then a foam mattress, a few years later, that developed a divot within a year and a half. That was followed by a hybrid mattress of which Gary says, “I hated it from the first night I slept on it. Every morning I woke up, my lower back hurt.” The next mattress was firmer—perfect for Gary, not for Anjie, so they went back to the previous mattress.


The search for happy sleep continued. “For the last three years, [Anjie] has been like Goldilocks down the Jersey Shore, trying to find a bed she can sleep on,” Gary says. Finally, last September, she suggested they get a Sleep Number. They purchased a c4, and immediately Gary’s lower back pain went away, and Anjie was sleeping better, too. Gary uses his smart watch to track his sleep, and says on “on the previous mattress, I was at 84-85 percent. As soon as we got the Sleep Number, I went up to 90 and above. So, I can statistically show you that I’m a better sleeper than I was before!” Having finally found just what they need, they also got a Sleep Number bed for their house at the shore.


“We’ve been married for 27 years,” Gary says, “And, apparently, for 26 of those years Anjie has hated the bed we’ve been sleeping in.”


Back at the hockey rink, Gary still plays two or three times a week. “My policy has always been, as long as I’m not the worst player on the team, I’m still going to play,” he says with a laugh. His years of experience help him keep up. “I used to play with a bunch of guys and were always the oldest and arguably the slowest in the league,” Gary recalls, “but we won with guile instead of speed. We would move the puck—we would pass, we would support each other.”


“I can’t run at all—my knees absolutely kill me,” Gary says, “but I can play hockey without any great difficulty, and it’s just so much fun.”


Gary’s Sleep Number setting is between 70 and 75; Anjie’s is between 40 and 45.


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds with SleepIQ® technology inside adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. SleepIQ technology tracks how well you sleep each night, giving you personal insights into your sleep so you’ll learn how life affects your sleep and how sleep affects your life. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.

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