In a sports-obsessed American culture, linking better sleep to sports performance could well open up new markets among coaches and athletes. A new study bolsters the possibility with findings that suggest that treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with CPAP improves golf performance in middle-aged men.
Results show that up to six months of treatment with CPAP therapy was associated with significant improvements in self-reported excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep-related quality of life. Participants treated with CPAP therapy also experienced a significant drop of 11% in their average handicap index, a standardized formula that estimates a golfer’s skill level.
Among the more skilled golfers who had a baseline handicap index of 12 or less, the average handicap index dropped by 31.5%. Participants attributed their enhanced performance to factors such as improved concentration, endurance, and decision making.
“The degree of improvement was most substantial in the better golfers who have done a superior job of managing the technical and mechanical aspects of golf,” said principal investigator and lead author Dr. Marc Benton, senior partner at Atlantic Sleep & Pulmonary Associates and medical director of SleepWell Centers of NJ, Madison, N.J. “With the cognitive enhancement afforded by successful treatment of their sleep apnea, they saw measurable improvement early and more significantly than those who were less skilled.”
The study results appear in the Dec 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which is published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Objective data reporting shows that average utilization of CPAP therapy by participants in the treatment group was 6.3 hours per night for 91.4% of the nights, which is a much higher compliance rate than is typically reported. The results suggest that the potential for improved golf performance may have played a motivational role in increasing treatment compliance.
“An important aspect of providing high quality, patient-centered care is to identify the unique factors that motivate individual patients to comply with treatment,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr. “Effectively treating sleep apnea with CPAP therapy can yield numerous physical, cognitive and emotional benefits, all of which can be great motivators for patients when they begin treatment.”