Who are the long sleepers? Towards an understanding of the mortality relationship

Sleep Med Rev. 2007 Oct;11(5):341-60. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2007.03.010. Epub 2007 Jul 10.


While much is known about the negative health implications of insufficient sleep, relatively little is known about risks associated with excessive sleep. However, epidemiological studies have repeatedly found a mortality risk associated with reported habitual long sleep. This paper will summarize and describe the numerous studies demonstrating increased mortality risk associated with long sleep. Although these studies establish a mortality link, they do not sufficiently explain why such a relationship might occur. Possible mechanisms for this relationship will be proposed and described, including (1) sleep fragmentation, (2) fatigue, (3) immune function, (4) photoperiodic abnormalities, (5) lack of challenge, (6) depression, or (7) underlying disease process such as (a) sleep apnea, (b) heart disease, or (c) failing health. Following this, we will take a step back and carefully consider all of the historical and current literature regarding long sleep, to determine whether the scientific evidence supports these proposed mechanisms and ascertain what future research directions may clarify or test these hypotheses regarding the relationship between long sleep and mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / mortality
  • Sleep*