Excessive daytime sleepiness and falls among older men and women: cross-sectional examination of a population-based sample


BACKGROUND: Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) has been associated with an increased risk for falls among clinical samples of older adults. However, there is little detailed information among population-representative samples. The current study aimed to assess the relationship between EDS and falls among a cohort of population-based older adults. METHODS: This study assessed 367 women aged 60-93 years (median 72, interquartile range 65-79) and 451 men aged 60-92 years (median 73, interquartile range 66-80) who participated in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study between the years 2001 and 2008. Falls during the prior year were documented via self-report, and for men, falls risk score was obtained using an Elderly Fall Screening Test (EFST). Sleepiness was assessed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and scores of  ≥ 10 indicated EDS. Differences among those with and without EDS in regard to falls were tested using logistic regression models. RESULTS: Among women, 50 (13.6%) individuals reported EDS. Women with EDS were more likely to report a fall, and were more likely to report the fall occurring outside. EDS was similarly associated with an increased risk of a fall following adjustment for use of a walking aid, cases of nocturia and antidepressant medication use (adjusted OR = 2.54, 95% CI 1.24-5.21). Multivariate modelling revealed antidepressant use (current) as an effect modifier (p < .001 for the interaction term). After stratifying the data by antidepressant medication use, the association between EDS and falls was sustained following adjustment for nocturia among antidepressant non-users (adjusted OR = 2.63, 95% CI 1.31-5.30). Among men, 72 (16.0%) individuals reported EDS. No differences were detected for men with and without EDS in regard to reported falls, and a trend towards significance was noted between EDS and a high falls risk as assessed by the EFST (p = 0.06), however, age explained this relationship (age adjusted OR = 2.20, 95% CI 1.03-1.10). CONCLUSIONS: For women, EDS is independently associated with at least one fall during the previous year, and this is more likely to occur whilst located outside. Amelioration of EDS may assist in improving functional outcomes among these individuals by reducing the risk for falls

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