The secret that PGA Tour pros are just waking up to could also help your golf game
Golfers have such wildly varying attitudes towards sleep that it is hard to get a consensus on the best practice, even if more and more research points to sleep deprivation harming a player’s game.
Golf accommodates a broad spectrum of mentalities and approaches to the professional game, and every amateur has an anecdote of playing their best game in a seemingly compromised state.
Increasingly, players at the top level are finding that getting sufficient sleep helps them maintain high performance, but it isn’t just athletes who benefit from getting enough sleep.
According to experts in the field, the average adult should strive to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Even though we are aware of this and how crucial restorative sleep is to our general health and function, we frequently don’t get enough of it.
We often lack preparedness for the next day since we have given our bodies and minds less time to relax and recuperate overnight.
Getting enough sleep provides clear benefits to the professional athlete, but many people performing at a high level are also highly driven and will eschew sleep, seeing it as a waste of time.
Tiger Woods has admitted to suffering from a sleep problem and ran into serious trouble due to wayward efforts to correct it.
Others have recognised the need for sleep and made a conscious effort to adapt. Seasoned tour professional Paul Casey says that he has slept well throughout his career but only through conscious effort.
“I’ve always slept eight hours,” Casey says. “But it took some effort to establish that. When I first came on tour I used to tape over everything in the hotel room that emitted light, including the little red light on the smoke alarms.
“I taped the curtains together, put a towel at the base of the door, even covered the clock next to the bed. It was so dark, I once walked into the closet instead of the bathroom.”
Golf is also a sport that allows the more laidback professional to be successful and quite a few players say they are easy sleepers like Matt Kuchar, Bryce Molder and Zach Johnson.
Justin Leonard found that changes to his diet helped improve his sleeping patterns and his game.
Studies have also found that staying hydrated is key to sleeping well and it’s always a good idea to take in fluids on the course.
Many pros have turned to a multi-phase sleep pattern to try to ensure their bodies are well rested.
Athletes across a number of sports are beginning to use this approach to offset sleep deprivation, which experts say is a lot better than operating on little to no sleep even if it isn’t as good as prolonged rest.
“What matters most is the sum of the sleep you’re getting, not the duration,” former associate golf pro and sleep expert Nicky Littlehales says.
“If a person can sleep for 1½ hours five times a day or, even better, 2½ hours three times a day, research has shown that they get pretty well rested. It’s not ideal, but it’s realistic. What I call the ‘poly-phasic’ approach will guarantee a pretty high level of alertness and awareness when you’re awake.”
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