If you want to get better at golf, it’s not hard to understand what you need to do. Get a coach, practice on the driving range and putting green, get on the course as often as possible, track your stats, work on your form, and monitor your progress. You might even want to invest in a golf mat so you can practice at home.
But that’s just what you need to do when the club’s in your hand. What about the other 20 hours of the day? The truth is, what you do off the course is just as important as what you do on the course.
If you want to make the most of your game and consistently improve, you need to be paying close attention to your nutrition, hydration, supplementation and sleep. For many of us, the first three are the easy ones.
But most of us don’t understand the interesting links between golf and better rest… Or rest and better golf. Here’s what you should know about how one affects the other and how you can maximize both of them.
The Effects of Lack of Sleep
A lack of good quality sleep can have some nasty consequences. You may not feel them acutely if you’re only slightly sleep-deprived. But if you don’t make up your sleep as time goes by, the symptoms can eventually become debilitating.
Sleep is when the brain consolidates the events of the day and the body heals. If you don’t get enough of it, both your brain and your body don’t get time to rest and recover. As you can imagine, this leads to some unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Impaired cognitive performance
- Difficulty paying attention
- Irritability & mood swings
- Increase in anxiety & depression
- Dull, sluggish reflexes
- Weight gain
- Lowered immune system
Another unfortunate side effect of restless or fragmented sleep is that any practice you did during the day may go to waste if your memory and muscle memory aren’t properly consolidated during the night!
It’s also important to note that “sleep deprivation” isn’t just what you see in the movies. It’s not just something that happens to insomniacs and takes days and days of no sleep to really set in.
Just one night of less sleep than usual can have a negative impact. Night after night less sleep than you truly need can add up—you may not notice it immediately, but the effects are there.
How Does This Affect Your Golf?
It’s true that golf isn’t the most physically demanding sport out there. But it is one of the more mentally taxing sports—you can’t really play a good game of golf without strategic thinking!
Not getting enough sleep can have a noticeable effect on your golf game. You’re not likely to lose all your skill or be a complete mess on the golf course after a bad night’s sleep, but consistent sleep deprivation—even losing an hour a night due to fragmented sleep—can have striking (and unfortunately negative) effects on your gameplay.
- Lack of focus and clear thinking make it difficult to implement your strategy
- A less rested body means your endurance may suffer across 18 holes
- Lack of physical energy may dampen the power of your swing
- Tiredness can ruin your mood and make your round less enjoyable!
If you have a run of a few days of poor sleep, you may notice some of these signs on the golf course. But what happens when you’re constantly getting less sleep than you need?
- Your handicap may get worse over time as your form suffers
- You may be more prone to injury as your body isn’t in optimal condition
- It’s possible that you may stop enjoying the game as much
The Effect of Golf on Sleep
If you flip things around, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that exercise has a positive effect on sleep. Playing golf regularly can actually help you to sleep better! Here’s why:
- Exposure to sunlight provides the body with much-needed vitamins
- Being away from the screen can help to reset the brain and rest the eyes
- Time in nature is proven to offer multiple health benefits, including better sleep
- Physical exercise increases circulation boosts endorphin release and improves rest
It’s clear that sleep has an effect on golf, and golf has an effect on sleep. But if one suffers, it has a negative effect on the other! Of course, if you stop playing golf you can still get great sleep. But it’s much harder to play good golf if you aren’t well-rested.
If you want the best of both worlds, here’s what we suggest.
Figure Out What’s Causing Your Lack of Sleep
Understanding sleep deprivation—even if it’s just losing an hour a night—can be the key to fixing it. The first step is to figure out what exactly is causing your sleep loss.
Are you going to bed too late? Being exposed to blue light before sleep? Is the room too warm, too cold, too noisy, or too light? Do you have a pet in the room? Find the cause of your sleep disruption and fix it, and you may find that you suddenly have more energy and clearer thought processes!
Optimize Your Bedtime Routine
Being a little more thoughtful about your actions before you go to bed can make a huge difference. For example, if you usually find yourself getting up to go to the bathroom, you can improve your sleep simply by not drinking for a few hours before you go to sleep.
Avoid the phone or TV screen for at least 30 minutes before bed. Do something to wind down, like journaling, meditating, or reading.
Choose Your Golf Time Better
If you’re more of a night owl, playing golf early in the morning probably isn’t the best choice. Not only is your mind still waking up, but your reflexes probably aren’t at their best either.
Choose to golf when you feel most alert and physically strong. For some, this is the morning. For others, the afternoon or evening is the optimal time. Take some time to figure out when your best time of the day is and try to golf at that time.
Sometimes in spite of all our efforts to enhance our sleep, we may be fighting against sleep disorders that cannot simply be overcome without professional help. If you feel tired throughout the day or believe there are other reasons you are not sleeping well, visit your local sleep specialist for help. They will examine your sleep habits and help you get the sleep you deserve.
If you live in Alaska and would like to speak with a sleep specialist, please click on the banner below.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman who understands the impact of sleep on life, work, and sporting performance. When he’s not coaching young golfers or working on his own game, he writes for his own website, Golf Influence.