03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Tee Off On This: Sleep Better, Golf Better

I don’t know any avid golfer who isn’t looking for tips to improve his or her game. Some of my golfing friends are real fanatics, incessantly talking about ways to reduce the number of strokes it takes to get through eighteen holes. And now I finally have proof to make a case for my area of expertise: better sleep. Equipment, weather conditions, athleticism, and technique aside, if you can get your game on at night, you can get your game on over the greens. Seriously.

I’m not making this up. A study
out of Morristown Memorial Hospital
in New Jersey found a group of golfers
that improved their golf game by up to
three strokes
. Granted, these golfers suffered from sleep apnea and were
users of the C-PAP,
a continuous positive airway pressure mask that helps them sleep better. But my
guess is that if a study were done on the general golfing population, we’d see
similar findings: those who sleep better,
golf better

Why? Easy. Consider the following benefits of a good night’s sleep:

  • Better concentration and ability to focus.
  • Better hand-eye coordination.
  • Alertness.
  • Sharper memory (to recall the level of difficulty or technical secrets to a certain hole, the course terrain, etc.)

All of this bodes well for the golfer—or any sports player for that matter.

So, why were researchers looking at the effects of a C-PAP on golfers in particular? Sounds like an odd thing to report on. But not when you consider that savvy supporters of the C-PAP (myself included) are always looking for ways to motivate people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea to wear these highly-effective devices. It also turns out that the better you are at golf, the more you have to gain (or lose, depending on how you look at it from a stroke perspective) from achieving restful sleep at night. The more adept golfers in the study lost the most strokes.

Now go sleep. And go play.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD

The Sleep Doctor™

This article on sleep and golf is also available at Dr. Breus's official blog, The Insomnia Blog.