You know how I feel about adequate sleep–I think it’s absolutely crucial. Not only does getting a proper amount do amazing things for your health, but not getting enough can be simply disastrous. Check out the latest findings from the California Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco: Women over 70 who get less than adequate sleep are more likely to fall; and falls cause fractures as well as some deaths.

According to the study, which followed 3,000 women over 7o for a number of years, women who slept no more than five hours per night were at the greatest risk of falling and seriously hurting themselves. They were, in fact, likely to have two or more falls a year. Women who slept between five and seven hours were the next most likely to fall, and they did 40% more than the best rested. The women who slept the most, over seven hours, had the least risk of falling.

Although the study looked at women solely, it is by no means a female phenomenon. Men are at the same types of risk when not rested, and in light of the numbers of older people falling every year, it’s something to think about. Many people have trouble sleeping that’s for sure. Every reason to take up regular exercise, meditation and get some regular bodywork in. Each one of these practices should help regulate the natural sleep cycle. And I also think very highly of melatonin supplementation. No, it’s not going to work immediately over night, but try it for a few weeks or months and I’ll bet it helps.

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep, so if you aren’t getting yours it would be wise to make changes, no matter what your age. And if you are having sleep difficulties, speak to your doctor about any medications you are taking that might be contributing. Otherwise go to the gym, stay away from stimulants (coffee, cocaine) close to bedtime, meditate twice a day, and visit your local chiropractor–she might be able to help–and you should be catching proper z’s in no time. And when you finally do, you’ll find that your balance is as steady as a rock.

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