Napping may lead to falls in older women, study reveals

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Older women who nap may be more likely to fall, according to a study in the August issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers analyzed questionnaires on sleep and nap habits from 8,100 women aged 69 or older. Women who reported daily napping had greater odds of experiencing two or more falls within the first year after completing the sleep questionnaire compared to those who did not report daily napping. When adjusted for age, medical conditions, level of urinary incontinence and other factors, the results varied somewhat but were still significant.
Those who slept more in a 24-hour period also were more likely to fall, the study said. After age adjustment, women who reported sleeping more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period had a greater chance of suffering two or more falls during the first year of follow-up than those who slept only between eight and nine hours.
Impaired cognitive function, decreased muscle strength, use of medications, and comorbidities explain part of the relationship between daytime naps and falls, the study found.
"Because excessive sleep during the day or at night suggests that sleep is disrupted, interventions to treat sleep disorders and improve sleep quality in older women may reduce the risk of falls and fractures," the study said.
Another study in the journal found that cognitive performance and cognitive decline predicted falling over a period of eight years and were associated with an increasing fall risk. Participants in the study took three cognitive tests. Those who scored higher on the tests experienced fewer falls, the study found.