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Sleep Med. 2011 Jan;12(1):28-33. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.016. Epub 2010 Sep 25.

Mortality related to actigraphic long and short sleep.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.



The folk belief that we should sleep 8 h seems to be incorrect. Numerous studies have shown that self-reported sleep longer than 7.5 h or shorter than 6.5 h predicts increased mortality risk. This study examined if prospectively-determined objective sleep duration, as estimated by wrist actigraphy, was associated with mortality risks.


From 1995-1999, women averaging 67.6 years of age provided one-week actigraphic recordings. Survival could be estimated from follow-up continuing until 2009 for 444 of the women, with an average of 10.5 years before censoring. Multivariate age-stratified Cox regression models were controlled for history of hypertension, diabetes, myocardial infarction, cancer, and major depression.


Adjusted survival functions estimated 61% survival (54-69%, 95% C.I.) for those with sleep less than 300 min and 78% survival (73-85%, 95% C.I.) for those with actigraphic sleep longer than 390 min, as compared with survival of 90% (85-94%, 95% C.I.) for those with sleep of 300-390 min. Time-in-bed, sleep efficiency and the timing of melatonin metabolite excretion were also significant mortality risk factors.


This study confirms a U-shaped relationship between survival and actigraphically measured sleep durations, with the optimal objective sleep duration being shorter than the self-report optimums. People who sleep five or six hours may be reassured. Further studies are needed to identify any modifiable factors for this mortality and possible approaches to prevention.

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