Sleep and Falls

Sleep patterns change with age. Sleeping in the day, not sleeping at night, and early morning waking are common. Try not to worry about not sleeping. Instead try using relaxation as positive action that you can take.

What I can do:

  • Limit your daytime sleep
  • Be as active as you can during the day
  • Have a set bedtime routine
  • Milky drinks before bedtime may help
  • Tea and coffee later in the day are likely to keep you awake. Try switching to decaffeinated versions of your favourite drinks
  • Play music you enjoy or that is especially good for relaxation before going to bed
  • Try not to worry about the things you cannot change

It is important to sleep in bed whenever possible as it helps to improve circulation, to reduce swelling in limbs, and ensures all muscles in the body are in a relaxed state.

Sleeping pills are a common risk factor for falls, especially if you find yourself falling in the night or in the morning. If you are on regular sleeping pills, you may wish to speak to your GP about this.

Fatigue and boredom can also affect how alert we feel, which can increase falls risk. Keep to a good routine and try to keep your mind active by doing crosswords, reading the paper etc. Avoid sleeping for too long during the day, and pace yourself to manage fatigue.

Rolling out of bed

If you are rolling out of bed as you are asleep consider;

  • Changing the side of bed you sleep on, or sleep more centrally in the bed.
  • Review night time sedatives (sleeping tablets) as this could contribute to this.
  • Place a small towel under the edge of the fitted sheet to create a small barrier to alert you to being near the edge of the bed.
  • Elevate the edge of the mattress

If you are falling from the bed when you are trying to get in or out, consider:

  • Adapting the height of the bed- if it is too low it is easy to get in but hard to get out off
  • If the bed is too high- it will be hard to get in, and you may ‘slide’ out. Remove casters, or invest in a shallower mattress
  • The sheets are too slippery.
  • The edge of the mattress is too soft.

Bed handles to assist with bed transfer, for this speak to Occupational therapy or other health professionals for advice.