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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Geriatrics 1/2018

Sleep duration and sleep disturbances in association with falls among the middle-aged and older adults in China: a population-based nationwide study

BMC Geriatrics > Ausgabe 1/2018
Samuel Kwaku Essien, Cindy Xin Feng, Wenjie Sun, Marwa Farag, Longhai Li, Yongqing Gao



Falls pose major health problems to the middle-aged and older adults and may potentially lead to various levels of injuries. Sleep duration and disturbances have been shown to be associated with falls in literature; however, studies of the joint and distinct effects of those sleep problems are still sparse. To fill this gap, we aimed to determine the association between sleep duration, sleep disturbances and falls among middle-aged and older adults in China controlling for psychosocial, lifestyle, socio-demographical factors and comorbidity.


Data were derived from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) based on multi-stage sampling designs, with respondents aged 50 and older. Associations were evaluated by using multiple logistic regression adjusting for confounders and complex survey design. To further determine if the association of sleep duration/disturbance and falls depends on age groups, the study data were divided into two samples (age 50–64 vs. age 65+) and comparison was made between the two age groups.


Of the 12,759 respondents, 2172 (17%) had falls within the last 2 years. Our findings indicated that the participants who had nighttime sleep duration ≤5 were more likely to report falls than those who had nighttime sleep duration ≥6 h; whereas no association between nighttime sleep duration > 8 h and falls. Participants having sleep disturbances 1–2 days, or 3–4 days, and 5–7 days per week were also more likely to report falls than those who had no sleep disturbance. The nap sleep duration was not significantly associated with falls. Although the combined sample found both sleep duration and sleep disturbance to be strongly associated with falls after adjusting for various confounders, sleep disturbance was not significantly related to falls among participants aged 65 + .


Our study suggested that there is an independent association between falls and short sleep duration and disturbed sleep among middle-aged and older adults in China. Findings underscore the need for evidence-based prevention and interventions targeting sleep duration and disturbance among this study population.
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