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

Michael A. Grandner, Sean P.A. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

245 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-360
Number of pages20
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Long sleep
  • Mortality
  • Sleep
  • Sleep duration

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