London, England (CNN) -- Have you ever had the feeling that a bad night's sleep has affected your game on the fairway?
If so help maybe at hand, after scientists in New Jersey found that by eliminating chronic snoring handicaps of restless golfers can be significantly reduced.
A study undertaken by researchers at the Morristown Memorial Hospital tested a number of golfers who suffer from severe sleep apnoea -- a disease that restricts oxygen flow through the mouth and nose and causes the sufferer to stop breathing for more than ten seconds at a time.
During the experiment, 12 golfers were asked to use a device at night to ease breathing, while another 12 were tested without treatment. Throughout the experiment, levels of sleepiness were assessed before, during and after 20 rounds of golf.
The findings showed that golfers who had received treatment saw their average handicap fall significantly from 12.4 to 11.0, while lower handicapped golfers recorded an ever further drop from 9.2 to 6.3.
It's estimated that on average there are one to three million regular golfers who suffer from sleep apnoea, and most are undiagnosed or untreated. On the US PGA Tour, Mark Calcavecchia is just one of the few who has battled with the condition for nearly five years and is forced to wear a breathing mask in bed every night.
Dr Marc Benton of the Atlantic Sleep & Pulmonary Associates told CNN that he decided to conduct the test after treating a number of his friends: "I was routinely telling golf pals that if you treat the symptoms, you play better -- and they were consistently coming back to me with improved results on the golf course".
The recent findings have encouraged him to take this research further: "In 2010 we will be looking to collaborate with research centers around the U.S. I would like to use 100 golfers and see what the results will be"
One man who took part in the experiment is golfer Bernard Peters. He told CNN why this pilot research project was important: "I take golf very seriously, and I wasn't playing well despite hours of practice. I just couldn't visualize the ball before each shot."
After the first few rounds of treatment, the results were instantaneous: "My handicap dropped from 16 to 10.6 in a matter of weeks".
However, the real benefit has been to his health: "I feel more rested and energetic. My life has changed - I was known as the couch potato, but now I'm getting out there and living".