Compared with women in a recent study who slept 7 to 8 hours each night, women who slept for 5 hours or less or 10 hours or more had about a 25% increased odds of experiencing recurrent falls (falling at least twice in a year). In the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research analysis, poor sleep quality, insomnia, and more sleep disturbances were also associated with an increased odds of recurrent falls.

Short sleep was associated with an increased risk of all fractures, and upper limb, lower limb, and central body fractures, but not with an increased risk of hip fractures.

The analysis included 157,306 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, with an average follow-up time of 7.6 years for falls and 12.0 years for fractures. The annualized rate of recurrent fall events was 10.6% among women reporting 5 or less hours of sleep per night, 7.0% among women sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night, and 11.8% among women sleeping 10 or more hours per night.

“Falls are an important public health problem among older adults and lead to moderate to severe injuries. Most fractures occur because of falls, and recent evidence shows that mortality from falls in the US is increasing,” says lead author Dr. Jane Cauley, DrPh, of the University of Pittsburgh, in a release. “Even though falls are caused by a number of factors, our paper focuses on a novel risk factor: sleep. Results suggest that interventions aimed at improving sleep may reduce the risk of falls.”