Tips & Techniques

Night-time Falls

Jennifer Myatt 
 • 
January 9, 2024

It is known that there is a correlation between nocturia (getting up during the night to use the toilet) and an increase in falls. Does this sound familiar? Maybe you know someone that has fallen getting up out of bed to go to the bathroom in the night or maybe this has happened to you? So why do falls tend to increase at night? While there are many unique and individualized situations why falls may occur, I want to address some of the most basic and common components of why there is an increased risk of falls during the night.

#1 - It’s Dark
It might seem like common sense but what is it about the dark that could increase a chance of falling Balance consists of three systems that work together: visual, vestibular (inner ear), and proprioceptive (sensing where your body is in space and how it’s moving). When it is dark, one of our main balance components is compromised, leaving the other two systems to compensate for the lack of vision. But what if the other 2 systems aren’t functioning great either? This is why we often practice balance activities with eyes closed with our patients.

#2 - Shoes - Slippers - Barefoot - Oh my!
If you tend to wear shoes all day and then you are suddenly getting up to go to the bathroom barefoot, you will have different sensory input then you are used to all day. Also, we often neglect strengthening our foot muscles which can have an impact on how we walk and our balance! See my last blog for tips on strengthening the many muscles in your feet.  https://www.smithptrun.com/physical-therapy-tips/meet-your-feet/   It is important to practice balance and movement both with and without shoes. You may see our patients without shoes on at times.

#3 - Hurry!
Everyone knows the feeling of rushing to the bathroom. When we have been laying down and we get up quickly to rush out of bed it can cause a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness sometimes due to postural hypotension which is a drop in blood pressure that happens when we get up too fast. Most people will experience a mild form of this if laying down for a long time then getting up very quickly. The best thing you can do is sit up and give your body a chance to adjust before jumping up and hurrying to the bathroom. You can sit up in bed, then sit on the edge of your bed with your feet on the ground, then stand up and wait a moment before walking.

These are just three of the many complexities involved with loss of balance and falls at night, but it is a good place to start if you happen to get up to use the bathroom at night. Consider using night-lights, or clap on/off lights for visual input. Strengthen your feet, and even though you may feel an urgency to get up quick, give your body a chance to adjust to being upright after laying in bed. As always, we are here to help you improve balance and reduce risk of falls so contact us with any questions or concerns!

For more information about nocturia and pelvic health: https://www.smithptrun.com/physical-therapy-tips/pelvic-floor-physical-therapy-the-pt-you-never-knew-you-needed/

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