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He Shook Me All Night Long

There was yelling. There was moaning. The sheets were tangled and the bed was shaking all night long. No, this is not going to be a post reviewing 50 Shades of Grey nor is it going to be a post about a wild night of sex. (Sorry if that disappoints you.) This is what an average night of sleep is like in my bed now that Oregano is training for his first 5K run.

Oregano has always been athletic. He was a competitive swimmer in college and his strength lies in his upper body. Despite knowing this about himself, he decided it was time for a fitness challenge, so he signed up to participate in a 5K run. My husband, the man who breaks a sweat scooping out the litter box and has refused to go to the pool on summer days because it was “too hot to go swimming” has decided to run his first 5K race in the heat and humidity that is mid-July in New Jersey. While I admire his enthusiasm for setting a goal, I am seriously concerned about his lack of self-awareness.

He began his training regimen a month ago and I have noticed a disturbing trend. I can’t get a good night’s sleep on the nights he works out. Taking up running has put a new stress on Oregano’s legs causing him to get calf cramps. After he falls asleep, he twists the sheets so that his feet are sticking out and scooches down to the bottom of the bed. He puts his toes against the footboard and repeatedly flexes them causing the bed to shake back and forth.

I know there is a legitimate medical condition called Restless Leg Syndrome, but I am suffering from a different disorder that I refer to as “rest-less” leg syndrome. His legs are making me rest less. If the shaking was consistent and rhythmic, I wouldn’t be complaining because it would gently lull me to sleep and keep me sleeping like a baby in a cradle. Unfortunately, these shakes occur at odd intervals and last for several minutes. They stop just long enough for me to drift off to sleep only to be startled awake by another wave of shaking. Trying to be a supportive wife, I tolerated this new behavior thinking it was only temporary while his body adjusted to the new workouts.  When a week passed without me having a solid night’s sleep, my cheerful, supportive disposition disappeared faster than a person with narcolepsy nods off.

One night he fell asleep before me and the shaking started. I couldn’t take it anymore so I gently woke him up by rubbing his back. “Honey, slide up toward the top of the bed. You’re feet are on the footboard and you’re shaking the entire bed.”

Without opening his eyes he responded, “No, I’m not. I don’t feel anything.”

“Sweetie, you’re asleep. You don’t know you’re doing it and you don’t feel it. I’m sitting here watching House Hunters International; the bed is shaking back and forth and you are the cause. Trust me. I’m the one who’s conscious right now.”

He wiggled up towards the head of the bed and the shaking stopped. When my show was over I fell asleep only to be awakened an hour later when the bed was shaking.

I woke him up again, but not so gently this time. “Move up! You are shaking the bed again!”

The voice from the bottom half of the bed said, “I’m stretching my calves. They’re sore from the cramps. This makes them feel better.”

“If you need to stretch, get out of bed. The floor is a lovely place to stretch and it won’t disturb my sleep,” I yelled and rolled back over hoping to fall asleep before the bed started rocking again.

The next morning, still groggy from my fitful night’s sleep, I told Oregano he had 2 options: speak to the trainers at his gym to see if they have any suggestions about reducing calf cramps or start sleeping in the guest room. That night he returned home limping after his workout and said, “I spoke to the trainer. She told me that there are several things that could be causing my cramps. We’ve narrowed it down to bananas and shoes.”

“Bananas and shoes?” I asked.

“She said that I may not be getting enough potassium and suggested eating a banana a day.” He stood there stretching his calf muscles against the door frame and continued, “The trainer also told me that there is a runners’ shoe store about 45 minutes away. They have a treadmill I can run on that will analyze my stride and the structure of my feet then tell me which sneakers are best for my running style. She warned me that the sneakers would be expensive.”

“With all that technology being used, how could the shoes not be expensive?” I asked. “Why not try the banana option first? A dollar’s worth of bananas could solve this problem. It’s an inexpensive and tasty solution.”

“Well, I don’t really like to eat bananas,” he said.

“You’d rather spend $200 on a pair of sneakers than eat a banana?”

“Let’s just say that when I eat a lot of bananas, there are intestinal ramifications.”

“Oh, I understand. Too many bananas means the runners can’t leave the starting blocks,” I said and winked at him.

“Exactly! So, you can see why buying new sneakers is a more appealing option.”

“There is one more option to consider. It doesn’t have any intestinal side effects and it won’t cost any money.”

“Really?! Were you doing some research, too? What’s the solution?”

“Stop running. You can still do the 5K, but jog or walk, don’t run. The cramps are your body’s not so subtle way of telling you it doesn’t enjoy running. The sleep-stretching you do every night is a subliminal message. Why not listen to your body? You’ll stop getting cramps. I’ll start sleeping through the night again. It’s a win-win situation.”

The race is less than a month away and Oregano has continued his training. He hasn’t eaten any bananas and didn’t go to the high-tech sneaker store, but he does have a new pair of more supportive running shoes. I am looking for a screwdriver and a way to remove the footboard from the bed. Compromise is a key ingredient to a successful marriage.

** post-script – 6/29/12 **

Thank you to all of the readers who took the time to leave comments with helpful information about preventing leg cramps by staying hydrated,  proper stretching techniques, timing of workouts, drinking pickle juice, slipping soap under the sheets and the health benefits of bananas. I think together we may be weakening Oregano’s resistance to bananas. Just this morning, he found this little surprise on his desk from Yerba Buena, one of his co-workers who is also a reader. 

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