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How to Improve Your Golf Handicap

Are you having trouble with your golf game? Would you like to lower those scores and start winning those bets you and your buddies make on Saturday? A study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine titled Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome with Nasal Positive Pressure Improves Golf Performance, shows how treating your sleep apnea might make this happen.

The study enrolled 12 male golfers with known sleep apnea and 12 similarly matched golfers without sleep apnea. All participants reported their golf handicaps, which is a number derived from the previous 20 rounds of golf. The sleep apnea golfers were placed on CPAP at appropriate pressures to eliminate their sleep apnea.

The golfers then reported back with their handicaps after another 20 rounds of golf with impressive results. The control group showed no change in skill level. However, the sleep apnea group demonstrated far different outcomes. The average golfer in this group dropped his handicap by 11.3%. The more skilled golfers–those with an initial handicap of 12 or less–dropped their handicap by a whopping 30%.

It is estimated that 80% of Americans with sleep apnea are undiagnosed and untreated. Among those who are diagnosed and treated, studies show that only 40 to 50% stick to treatment. The authors feel that their findings could be a significant motivator for seeking or adhering to therapy.

We know that sleep is an important component of athletic performance. In another recent study at Stanford University, when student athletes had their sleep time extended by one hour, their athletic performance improved remarkably.

Related: 7 Lifestyle Changes That Will Improve Sleep Quality and Quantity

In many ways, sleep apnea is a form of sleep deprivation. The individual’s sleep is fragmented by numerous arousals throughout the night. This is especially pronounced during REM sleep, which has been associated with procedural memory such as riding a bike, skiing, or playing golf. In addition, low levels of oxygen resulting from sleep apnea can damage an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This site is most important in problem solving, planning, and execution, all of which are very important when playing golf.

We all know people who play golf. It is not uncommon for these individuals to spend thousands of dollars on the latest in golf equipment and still play no better than they did before. This study shows that there may be another way to go. If you have sleep apnea, make sure you are being treated. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea such as sleepiness, snoring, trouble concentrating, and fatigue, get that checked out. It will not only improve your health and quality of life, but how about that feeling you get when you take a little of your buddy’s money at the end of a round?