The association between long sleep duration and death is not fully understood. Long sleep is associated with low physical activity, which is a strong predictor of death. Our aim was to investigate the association between sleep duration and death across categories of total physical activity in a large prospective cohort of Swedish men and women. We followed a population-based cohort of 70,973 participants (37,846 men and 33,127 women), aged 45-83 years, from January 1998 to December 2012. Sleep duration and physical activity levels were assessed through a questionnaire. We evaluated the association of interest in terms of mortality rates by estimating hazard ratios with Cox regression and in terms of survival by evaluating 15th survival percentile differences with Laplace regression. During 15 years of follow-up, we recorded 14,575 deaths (8,436 men and 6,139 women). We observed a significant interaction between sleep duration and physical activity in predicting death (P < 0.001). Long sleep duration (>8 hours) was associated with increased mortality risk (hazard ratio = 1.24; 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.39) and shorter survival (15th percentile difference = -20 months; 95% confidence interval: -30, -11) among only those with low physical activity. The association between long sleep duration and death might be partly explained by comorbidity with low physical activity.
Keywords: Laplace regression; mortality; percentile; physical activity; prospective studies; sleep duration; survival.