Background To explore the associations between sleep duration and abnormalities in each serum lipid level in a Chinese population. Methods A prospective study was conducted with 33,817 participants from the general Chinese population. Sleep duration was categorized as ≤5, 6, 7, 8 or ≥9 h. Each lipid profile abnormality was defined according to the Chinese Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Dyslipidemia in Adults. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to assess these associations. Results Compared with a seven-hour sleep duration, longer sleep duration was significantly associated with high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (HR: 1.18; 95% CI: 1.10–1.17) in fully adjusted models. And a longer sleep duration was significantly associated with low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels (HR: 1.22; 95% CI: 1.19–1.35). In subgroup analyses, the positive association between long sleep duration and high LDL-C and low HDL-C levels in men and in the different age groups were more pronounced than the association in women. No significant interactions were observed in the association between sleep duration and each abnormal serum lipid level by sex/age in the study population(p- interaction>0.05). Conclusions These findings suggest that longer sleep duration is associated with high LDL-C and low HDL-C levels among the Chinese population.