Sleep Apnea Treatment Helps Your Golf Game
Study Shows NPAP Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Improves Patients' Golf Scores
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 2, 2009 -- Men and women who undergo treatment for sleep apnea not only
can improve their general health, but their golf games as well, new research
A study presented at CHEST 2009, the 75th annual international scientific
assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, finds that golfers who
have obstructive sleep apnea and who received a therapy called nasal positive
airway pressure (NPAP) improved their daytime sleepiness scores.
And they also lowered their golf handicap by as much as three strokes,
according to Marc L. Benton, MD, FCCP, of the Atlantic Sleep and Pulmonary
Associates in Madison, N.J.
People who think they can improve their golf scores are likely to be more
receptive to nasal positive airway pressure therapy, says Benton and colleague
Neil S. Friedman, RN, RPSGT, of Morristown Memorial Hospital.
"More so than many sports, golf has a strong intellectual component, with
on-course strategizing, focus and endurance being integral components of
achieving good play," Benton says in a news release. "[Sleep apnea] can lead to
daytime sleepiness, fatigue and cognitive impairment, all side effects which
can negatively impact a person's ability to golf to the best of one's
With obstructive sleep apnea, breathing becomes periodically blocked during
sleep. Treatment with nasal positive airway pressure therapy involves the use
of specialized nasal masks with pressurized air to push air into the windpipe
to keep it open.
The researchers analyzed the impact of the treatment on the golf handicap
index of 12 players who'd been diagnosed with moderate to severe obstructive
sleep apnea. The handicap index was recorded on each golfer, who also filled
out a sleepiness scale and a sleep questionnaire developed by the
After 20 rounds of golf while receiving the nasal therapy during sleep over
three to five months, the golfers in treatment demonstrated a significant drop
in their average handicap, from 12.4 to 11.
They also improved their scores on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and on the
Twelve golfers without obstructive sleep apnea and NPAP treatment were used
as a comparison group; they showed no change in any of the measurement
"As any golfer knows, when your ability to think clearly or make good
decisions is compromised, the likelihood of playing your best is greatly
diminished," Benton says in a news release. "Through treatment with NPAP, we
can improve many cognitive metrics, such as attention span, memory,
decision-making abilities and frustration management, which may, in turn,
positively affect a person's golf game."
Golfers With Sleep Apnea
The study also finds that the best golfers had the biggest improvements in
their scores. In this group, the average handicap dropped from 9.2 to 6.3, and
their scores also improved from 10.8 to 2.8 on the sleep questionnaires.