How a bad night’s sleep throws you off balance

We all know how important sleep is to our health both mentally and physically. After all, who hasn’t slept poorly only to wake up feeling sluggish, sick and seriously under the weather?

Multiple scientific studies have even linked poor sleep to everything from weight gain and depression to diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Yet, there’s another danger you could be facing if you’re not getting enough rest (or even too much of it) that hasn’t gotten enough attention…

Your risk of serious falls and even fractures.

Yep, that’s right…

If you regularly sleep more or less than the recommended length for good health, you are much more likely to take a tumble that could land you in the doctor’s office, the hospital or even a nursing home.

Here’s what you need to know…

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Helps Your Body Maintain Optimum Immune Balance!


The 7 – 8 hour sweet spot

A study out of the University of Pittsburgh followed 157,306 women who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative to determine the effect of their sleep length on their risk of falls and fractures with an average follow up time of 7.6 years for falls and 12.0 years for fractures.

In other words, this was a huge study with an extensive follow-up time. So, you can take the results to the bank.

The research, reported in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that insomnia, poor sleep quality and other sleep disturbances all increased participants’ odds of recurrent falls.

And, they discovered that overall, women who slept for 5 or 10 hours a night rather than the recommended 7 – 8 hours had a 25 percent increased risk of falling at least twice a year.

That might not sound too scary until you take into account the results of those falls.

After combing the women’s medical records, the researchers determines that short sleep was associated with an increased risk of all fractures, including upper limb, lower limb, and central body fractures.

Put simply, the women who fell had a higher chance of breaking an arm, leg, their ribs or even a collar bone. Ouch!

Clearly, not getting the proper amount of sleep is a dangerous proposition. But, why?

An acute balance deficit

Luckily, that question was recently answered by researchers at the University of Warwick.

The team used a sample of healthy adults who underwent sleep and balance assessment over two consecutive days, in order to determine the links between day-to-day variations in sleep quality and balance.

Using data from state-of-the-art wearable sensors were used on both in-home sleep monitoring and balance testing the researchers found that fragmented and disrupted sleep leads to an acute balance deficit.

In other words, poor sleep reduces your capability to control your posture and your balance – making you more likely to fall.

As Dr. Leandro Pecchia, team leader of the research from the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick put it, “We all have direct experience of this. When we do not sleep well, we may feel a little dizzy and our capability to control our posture and balance is somehow diminished. When we are fit and in good health, our body is able to adapt and we develop a strategy to keep our balance, avoiding falls and incidents.”

Protecting yourself from falls

Besides getting enough sleep, there are a number of other ways to lower your odds of falls and the painful fractures that can come with them.

Check out the martial arts tip for better balance from Dr. Mark Wiley, an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner who holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine. And, don’t miss his 3 ways to improve your balance and avoid injury.

Also, be sure to check out your medications for side effects that could increase your fall risk. As my colleague, Margaret Cantwell points out, there are a number or prescriptions that can lead to dizziness and destroy your balance and she gives the 5 most common you should look for here.

Falls can be incredibly dangerous but they are preventable. Get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night, ask your doctor for alternatives to drugs that could put you at risk and use the other tips above to improve your balance and you can walk safely.


  1. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetesAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
  2. Sleep and Chronic Disease — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Sleep length may affect risk of falls and fractures — American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  4. Falls are more likely when you’ve had a bad night sleep — University of Warwick
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.