Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is associated with impairment of cognitive function, and improvement is often noted with treatment. Golf is a sport that requires a range of cognitive skills. We evaluated the impact of nasal positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy on the handicap index (HI) of golfers with OSAS.
Golfers underwent a nocturnal polysomnogram (NPSG) to determine whether they had significant OSAS (respiratory disturbance index > 15). Twelve subjects with a positive NPSG were treated with PAP. HI, an Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and sleep questionnaire (SQ) were submitted upon study entry. After 20 rounds of golf on PAP treatment, the HI was recalculated, and the questionnaires were repeated. A matched control group composed of non-OSAS subjects was studied to assess the impact of the study construct on HI, ESS, and SQ. Statistical comparisons between pre- and post-PAP treatment were calculated.
The control subjects demonstrated no significant change in HI, ESS, or SQ during this study, while the OSAS group demonstrated a significant drop in average HI (11.3%, p = 0.01), ESS, (p = 0.01), and SQ (p = 0.003). Among the more skilled golfers (defined as HI ≤ 12), the average HI dropped by an even greater degree (31.5%). Average utilization of PAP was 91.4% based on data card reporting.
Treatment of OSAS with PAP enhanced performance in golfers with this condition. Treatment adherence was unusually high in this study. Non-medical performance improvement may be a strong motivator for selected subjects with OSAS to seek treatment and maximize adherence.
A commentary on this article appears in this issue on page 1243.
Benton ML; Friedman NS. Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome with nasal positive airway pressure improves golf performance. J Clin Sleep Med 2013;9(12):1237-1242.