Current Region: Devon Switch Region

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 when lying in bed.

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;

  • Try to sleep more centrally in the bed.
  • Ask your GP to review night time sedatives (sleeping tablets) as this could contribute to this.
  • Elevate the edge of the mattress

If you are falling or slipping 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. You could remove casters, or invest in a shallower mattress
    • If the bed is too low- it will be hard to stand from. You could raise the bed, a mobility shop or the independent living centre can help advise on this
  • If you are struggling to stand from the bed and the height is correct for you, try building in some strengthening exercises into your daily routine (see exercise tab)
  • If you are struggling to get in and out of the bed a bed leaver could help. Speak to a mobility shop or the independent living centre. If you have an electronic bed you could try to flatten the knee break on an electronic bed.
  • Other factors which may increase your risk of falling are; the sheets are too slippery or 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.            

Further Information

Independent Living Centre:

Mobility Shops

Community Rehabilitation Team:

Axminster: 01297 630435

Crediton: 01363 777561

Exeter Central and East: 01392 465666

Exeter South and West: 01392 908616

Exmouth, Budleigh & Woodbury: 01395 282021

Okehampton: 01837 658029

Seaton Rehab: 01297 626740

Sidmouth: 01395 519909

Tiverton: 01884 235492

North Devon & Torridge: please contact your GP for referral to the rehabilitation team.