Poor Sleep Found to Be Riskier for Falls Than Drinking
written by/ November 4, 2021
A large-scale Korean study has presented strong evidence that poor sleep quality leads to a higher risk of falls among adults of all ages.
The background of the study—the 2018 Korean Community Health Survey involving 201,700 participants—provided an extensive database for determining this link among adults aged 19 or older.
The participants’ sleep quality was assessed through the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores. Data comparison between the two groups—fallers (2,499) and non-fallers (199,201) indicated a clear correlation between sleep quality and the probability of falls.
More precisely, those that scored over 5 in the PSQI had a greater chance of falls than their peers. There were three components of this questionnaire that were found to be the most associated with increased risk of falling:
- short sleep duration
- sleep disturbances
- increased daytime dysfunctions.
The link was evident even when considering all other factors such as socioeconomic background, demographics, health condition, and mental health.
Previous, smaller-scale studies provided conflicting information on the association between sleep and falling in community-dwelling adults 65 years of age or older, linking increased risk of falls only to very short sleep duration and daytime sleepiness.
However, short sleep duration isn’t the only sleep irregularity associated with falls. Another study concludes that longer sleep (8 hours or more a day) among people aged 65+ points to greater risk of fall-induced injuries.
This (counterintuitive) conclusion is explained by the possibility of longer sleep being a symptom of an underlying sleep disturbance or another health issue.
Indeed, the older population is more likely to be affected by sleep disruptors like chronic pain and insomnia, putting them in need of improved sleep comfort. This is why OTC sleep aids and various comfort-boosters are a reasonable investment.
What’s also interesting is that according to the South Korean study, poor sleep exposes one to greater risk of falling than regular smoking or risky drinking. Finally, the results also show that household income, biological sex, employment status, and similar socioeconomic variables were significant in the distinction between lower- and higher-risk groups.