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Sleep Disruption Can Lead to Imbalance and Falls, Says a Study

Day-to-day disruptions in sleep can lead to bodily imbalance, making one prone to fall, says a new study.

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Sleep deprivation has been known to negatively affect human balance and posture control. A recent study delves into the effects of variations in sleep quality and pattern on standing balance in healthy individuals.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, studied twenty volunteers, among which twelve were females and eight were males. None of them had any history of sleep disorders of balance impairments.

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The researchers assessed sleep and balance over two consecutive days. Sleep quality variations were assessed using sleep diary, actigraphy and heart rate variability measures. Sleep was monitored at home using a wearable device, and balance was assessed in a lab using foot centre of pressure (COP) displacement during quiet standing.

Subjects with a day-to-day deterioration in sleep quantity and quality exhibited significant changes in balance. Conversely, subjects with no significant alterations in sleep quantity and quality showed no significant changes in COP displacements.

According to a report in the NDTV, Dr Leandro Pecchia, team leader of the research from the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick said,

We all have direct experience of this. When we do not sleep well, we may feel a little dizzy and our capability to control our posture and balance is somehow diminished. When we are fit and in good health, our body is able to adapt and we develop a strategy to keep our balance, avoiding falls and incidents. 

He further added that the results obtained in healthy volunteers were surprising given the ability of youngsters to compensate for such short-lived disruptions.

More dramatic effects would be expected if these experiments were to be performed on older people, who might be more vulnerable to sleep disruption and bodily imbalance.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Sleep Deprivation   Balance   Posture 

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