Lydia Ko may have only finished tied for third in this month’s Palos Verdes Championship in California, but you’d be forgiven to think she had won after all the attention she has received recently. The world no.3 female golfer has been praised for her honesty when responding to a golf reporter’s questions about the back pains she endured during the event. 

“It’s that time of the month — I know the ladies watching are probably like, ‘yeah, I got you’, ” Ko said. 

The lesson here is that there are just some things our bodies can’t fight, and we shouldn’t feel embarrassed to admit them. While menstruation is certainly one for women, one for what seems to be a growing majority in both sexes is poor sleep. 

Unlike diet and exercise, we often hear very little about sleep and its effect on elite athletes. But make no mistake, whether you’re a professional or a casual golfer, getting enough quality sleep is essential to your performance on the course. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Not getting enough rest affects your ability to do lots of things: to concentrate, to heal and recover, and sadly, your golf swing. 

Research shows that the average person needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to perform at their best the next day. This is the length of time required to induce enough REM and deep sleep. 

Dr Carmel Harrington, a sleep health expert for ResMed says that it is in these sleep stages where the body and mind do the most repair. 

“During sleep, and specifically deep sleep, the body secretes growth hormone which allows for the building, repairing and restoration of muscle,” she said. 

In an interview, last November with Golf Digest, current world no. 11, Danielle Kang spoke about how much her success in golf relies on getting healthy sleep. 

“Nutrition, working out, practising, those are all important aspects of becoming an elite athlete. But if we don’t have rest, we’re not going to be able to be as productive. There’s no way around sleep,” she said. 

With all the travel and touring, pro athletes will at times not get enough sleep. When this happens to Kang, she knows she will underperform. 

“I make really minor mistakes on the golf course, mistakes that I would never normally make. When I perform, play, execute, and compete I want to be able to do the best that I can,” she said. 

Athletes are now placing increased attention on not only their training and nutrition but also on their recovery. Considering the long training hours, media demands and distractions, many are turning to sleep experts for help. 

According to a ResMed survey, it is not only athletes who need help. Forty-one per cent of Australians said they were not getting enough sleep.1 For all concerned, Dr Harrington has one piece of advice. 

“Missing a workout isn’t ideal, but it won’t stop you from operating, whereas a lack of sleep definitely will,” she said. 

What does this mean for you? Like with all things related to your health and body, taking sleep seriously as part of your training is essential if you want to awaken your best performance. 

To find out more and to see how you sleep, go online and complete our free sleep assessment today.

References 1. Atomik Research. “The ResMed Sleep Health Survey.” Survey. 4-6 Sep. 2019.