If you’re a golfer with obstructive sleep apnea, treating the condition may improve your game, according to a small new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It looked at middle-aged male golfers with moderate to severe sleep apnea who began CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. Within six months, they reported significant improvements in sleep quality and daytime sleepiness, along with a big drop in their handicap (lower is better).
The greatest golf improvement was in the better players, attributed to enhanced cognitive function from CPAP. Sleep apnea, characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and premature death. The gold standard treatment is CPAP, which pumps air through a mask to keep nasal airways open but is notoriously hard to stick with. In this study, compliance was unusually high, suggesting that just the possibility of improving performance may be enough to motivate people to use it.