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Better Sleep Can Lower a Golf Handicap

Health & Wellness: Sleep Better, Golf Better

Photo by ZoonarJiri Hera

Lowering one’s golf handicap may seem a daunting challenge, but the solution could be as simple as improving the quality of one’s sleep. The link between sleep deprivation and decreased overall health is well established, but a recent study at the SleepWell Center of New Jersey suggests a direct association between poor-quality slumber and performance on the golf course. Sufferers of sleep apnea will often have “mini-awakenings” 20 to 60 times an hour or more, according to Marc L. Benton, MD, medical director of the SleepWell Center in Madison, NJ. “The quality of a patient’s sleep can be so poor that it may be equivalent to not sleeping at all,” he explains. This deficit hinders faculties such as focus, decision-making, and hand-eye coordinationall skills particularly relevant in golf. “Golf is not like running a 50-yard dash,” says Dr. Benton. “A four-hour round of golf relies upon things such as anger management, mental acuity, and a host of psychomotor skills. Improve cognitive performance, and you will likely improve golf performance.” He admits that the sport’s popularity among middle-age males may play a role in the correlation (sleep apnea is most prevalent in men over 40) but sufferers have reason to hope. With treatment, the best golfers in the study were able to lower their handicaps from an average of 9.2 to 6.3. www.sleepwellnj.com