I’ve noticed it in myself and have heard it from others in my age group. (55 on up) My balance often feels a little “off” when I get up from bed in the middle of the night. I might stumble slightly or walk with a wider gait for a few steps until I feel that I get my “sea legs.” Otherwise my balance is fine and I’m quite active. I’m quite confident this is not orthostatic hypotension. There is no lightheadedness. I Googled a bit and saw one article that claimed that the number of nerve cells in the vestibular system decreases after age 55. This seems a likely cause. Anybody got any explanations why it’s worse right after getting up after sleeping?
I am very lucky, I am 71 and haven’t had any issues yet.
Just like hearing loss, I imagine that decreasing balance can be a combination of peripheral and CNS aging. Part of it could just be circulation. That lying still in bed in one posture, one’s circulation just ain’t what it used to be and your leg muscles “go to sleep” along with the rest of you. Even when I’m awake and sitting still, I sometimes have to get my “sea legs” on getting up. Sitting still for more than an hour, particularly if one is elderly, is bad. I try to be conscious of this when driving or flying, especially, and at least make an effort to move around in my seat, raising myself up a bit out of a seat, wiggling here and there, because I do notice “deadness” and dullness from not moving for a long time - not a problem that I noticed much when younger.
But decreasing balance is like cancer. There is no one surefire answer that applies to everyone. My father probably had Lewy body dementia. It’s related to Parkinson’s disease. Usually physical signs, sleep problems begin to show up before dementia. But he started walking like a ship listing to port and had horrific balance problems, falling frequently.
So hopefully getting your sea legs is just a problem of revving up the circulation in your lower limbs a bit after lying pretty still for a while and there is hopefully nothing more serious creeping up on you.
I experience that to a degree. I am also very aware of it, so I am extra careful, doubly so when “nature calls” at night. I reach out and touch the wall, stand still for maybe 15 seconds, then use your “wide gait” shuffle to get to the bathroom and back. Most of the reason for that cautiousness is knowing that my left leg is about an inch and a half shorter thanks (sic) to an intertrochanteric femur fracture from being hit by a car.
I’m very active, usually walk 3-5 miles a day, sometimes more. I can be walking straight and perfect, then start to curve off course and often almost stumble slightly, I’ve not fallen, nor come close, it just takes more mental effort to straighten my course again. I keep it in mind, knowing as I get older, the chances of stumbles or falls will increase, ugh. I’m just a couple months short of turning 70, though people guess me to be in my early 50s when the topic comes up.
Oh, and agree with Jim on the standing up often thing. I really like that my Apple watch prompts me to stand up every hour for at least one minute if I sit too long. I make a game out of it trying to stay ahead of the prompt, getting up and moving around often before it pesters me. Plus that fact that I can change programs quickly on my ReSounds from my wrist is highly convenient.
Balance uses visual as well other inputs.
One aid to stability may be as simple as turning on a light.
Nature calls regularly through the night, and my mid septuagenarian body is, so far, in good balance.
I can still work off high ladders, but, I need to establish a horizon and refer to it regularly to remain stable.
Getting old is the pits….
Hmm, I cannot give an exact cause but getting up too fast after being supine or
horizontal CAN result in orthostatic or postural hypotension. This can be caused by meds too. Best to sit first in
bed for 30 seconds to avoid falling.
I know I’m repeating the term for it. But a
tilt test regardless of age defines it what ever the cause. But aging increases the
Thanks. I think you may be on to something about light. It’s not really a problem–just something I am aware of. I try to resist tendencies to see old age as degeneration but remain grateful for being able to do things that I never dreamed of in my youth.
On lights, I have a few very dim LED lights on at strategic locations for night time nature calls. They are much dimmer than regular night lights and placed low as possible so not visible while in bed, barely illuminating the room. I can sleep in bright sunlight so not a distraction to me.
+1000% agree, attitude is 99% of being contented and satisfied with life.
I live in a senior community with about 130 residents, of whom the majority are cranky, frustrated people who are not aging well, which breaks my heart.
- I survived occluded arteries that would have killed me within 2-3 months, thanks to being active and noting subtle body signs,
- Beat cancer thanks to three incredible doctors and innumerable medical support people.
- Survived getting hit by a car on a bicycle, regained mobility allowing me to walk, hike, lift at the gym, and ride a bicycle again.
All of this because of many incredible people dedicated to helping others live a good life. All are heros in my eyes.
I spend hours every day outside in some type of activity year round, rain or shine. That is why my night time caution stated above, I want to keep as much mobility as I can for as long as I can, and be happy and grateful for what I have.
Just turned 80 last week. Had no trouble climbing tall Aztec temple near Mexico City last month.
I have worn HA for about eight years. The main problem I have, it started developing about 20 years ago, is called Essential Tremor. It mainly affects my hands and occasionally affects my head and voice. In the last year or two, I can no longer write legibly. If I attempt to write down a phone number, I can’t read my own writing. I use voice dictation to write email and text.
Tgh…speaks for me. Dr. Told me this is part of the aging process. When I first get up, I sit on the edge of the bed for a few seconds. It gives your equilibrium time to adjust. The hearing loss exacerbated it. So for me…in the morning…it’s slow and steady as she goes…JMH
Some heartfelt comments here…I guess we all have to play the cards we are dealt and make the best of each day.
Personally, I try to live the use it or lose it mantra, however my body has joined the old age union and there are now regular work to rules actions and stop work meetings that mess up my using it somewhat…
Well on a slightly different note, after speaking with some people for more than a few minutes I’m told that I’m unbalanced. Huh! And so I have to ask Why? Are the voices in my head bothering you?
The wife, a board-certified internist whose practice is almost all elderly patients, says that a decline in core strength and reflexive balance with age can be a major cause of instability with the elderly. She recommends forms of exercise that work to strengthen and train an individual in these areas, e.g., yoga, tai chi. But she agrees there can be many causes for instability in an aging person.
Not core strength in my instance. I’d accept that my reflexive balance might not be as good, but the benefit of a little light that teejayess mentioned rings true for me. Also, as I mentioned earlier that number of nerve cells in vestibular system decreases.