How Many People Died in Their Sleep?

March 15, 2024

Death in your sleep may seem like the most peaceful way to go, but it can still be a very disturbing thought. Fortunately, most people who die in their sleep do so due to common health conditions that can be easily treated or prevented. However, more complicated conditions can also contribute to a sudden unexplained death in sleep. For example, according to a study published in the journal Heart Rhythm, a young male patient who died from Pompe Disease, a condition where a complex sugar called glycogen builds up in the body, did so during his sleep.

To estimate the number of SUDS deaths, state and national death records were examined. All cases in which the cause of death listed as SUDS were considered probable SUDS and were included in this analysis. For each person, risk of SUDS death was calculated using Cox proportional hazard models. Adjustments were made for ten sociodemographic and lifestyle factors known to affect risk of death.

Results showed that men who had short sleep were more likely to die during their sleep than those who slept long, and the risk was especially high in the youngest group (7 h). For women, there was a nonsignificant trend toward an increased risk of SUDS death for those who slept poorly or very poorly. Including snoring as a covariate did not significantly change the HRs for either gender. The time when most deaths occur in our sleep is between 3am to 4 am in the early morning, a time when the body and brain try to dispose of unnecessary information to make space for new activities.


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