Poor sleep health predicts the onset of a fear of falling among community-dwelling older adults

Tuo Yu Chen, Soomi Lee, Kai Wen Hsu, Orfeu M. Buxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A greater fear of falling predicts disability, falls, and mortality among older adults. Although poor sleep has been identified as a relevant risk factor for fear of falling among older adults, evidence is primarily shown in cross-sectional studies using isolated sleep characteristics. Less is known about whether prior fall experiences change the sleep health-fear of falling link among older adults. We investigated the longitudinal relationship between sleep health and the incidence of fear of falling among community-dwelling older adults and how the association differed between those with or without prior fall experiences. Methods: Data were from individuals who completed the sleep module in the National Health and Aging Trends Study (2013-2014; n = 686). Fear of falling was assessed with a single item. Multidimensional sleep health was measured with self-reported sleep items based on the SATED model (ie, sleep satisfaction, daytime alertness, timing, efficiency, and duration). Covariates included sociodemographics, assistive device usage, health, risky behavior, and sleep medications. Multiple logistic regression was used to analyze the data. Results: Poor sleep health was associated with the onset of fear of falling at 1-year follow-up (odds ratios = 1.20, 95% confidence interval = 1.02-1.41). Moreover, poor sleep health increased the odds of having fear of falling among individuals without prior falls experiences and elevated the already heightened risks of developing fear of falling among those who fell at baseline. Conclusions: Given that fear of falling and experiencing a fall each increase the risk of the other occurring in the future, improving sleep health may prevent older adults from stepping into the vicious cycle of fear of falling and falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalSleep health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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