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“Good sleep” is full of benefits! What are the points to improve the quality of sleep ?

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You should be sleeping, but you can’t get tired, you can’t concentrate on your work, you can’t think of what you’re learning, and so on. Maybe it’s because you don’t get a good night’s sleep. This time, I will explain why the “quality” of sleep is important and the benefits of improving it. We will also show you how to improve your sleep quality. Please use it as a reference to get your ideal sleep.

Supervision: Dr. Yasuyoshi Watanabe (RIKEN Center for Biosystems Biosciences, Health and Pathological Sciences Research Team)

Relationship between fatigue and sleep

Sleep rests not only the body but also the brain

While we are awake, we are engaged in various physical and mental activities, which causes us to become “tired”. When tiredness accumulates, the desire to “sleep” (sleep desire) generated from the brain becomes stronger, leading to sleep.
Sleep consists of two different types of sleep, “REM sleep” and “non-REM sleep”. REM sleep is a light sleep in which the body is resting, but dreaming and preparing for awakening due to fluctuations in blood pressure and pulse. On the other hand, non-rem sleep is a state in which the brain (mind) is resting due to a decrease in brain wave activity due to deep sleep.
It is generally said that brain (mind) fatigue recovers mainly during non-REM sleep, and body fatigue recovers during both sleeps, especially during REM sleep. Sleeping is an important point of rest for a tired brain.

Sleep isn’t just about time, it’s about quality

It is considered that the standard sleeping time for adults in Japan is 6 hours or more and less than 8 hours, but the actual sleeping time (the amount of sleep per night) at night is about 7 hours at 25 years old, 45 hours. It is said that it decreases at a rate of about 30 minutes with aging, about 6.5 hours at the age of 65 and about 6 hours at the age of 65. Also, sleep time tends to be shorter in long-day seasons and longer in short-day seasons.
In this way, sleep time varies depending on age, season, individual differences, etc., and in modern society where it may not be possible to secure the time as expected, “sleep quality” becomes important.

So what kind of sleep can be called “quality sleep”? The evaluation index of sleep quality by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare shows as follows.
・ The rhythm of regular sleep and awakening is maintained, and the sharpness of day and night is clear.
・ You can have the necessary sleeping time, and you can spend your time in good physical and mental condition without drowsiness or falling asleep during the day.
・ Stable sleep can be obtained with less awakening on the way.
・ Wake up comfortably and refreshingly in the morning.
・ You can act smoothly after waking up.
・ After going to bed, you can fall asleep without spending too much time.
・ You can get a deep sleep by sleeping.
・ Satisfaction can be obtained without excessive fatigue during the day.

Benefits of improving sleep quality

Fatigue recovery

The functions of internal organs and thermoregulation that are carried out in the body are controlled by the autonomic nervous system that continues to work 24 hours a day, regardless of our intentions. The autonomic nervous system includes the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is involved in tension, and the parasympathetic nervous system is involved in relaxation.
When tired, both of them deteriorate in function, but the parasympathetic nervous system is particularly severely deteriorated, and the sympathetic nervous system becomes dominant. In other words, the tension pattern becomes stronger.
Therefore, the SOS signal “sleepiness” is emitted from the brain to rest the body. Following this signal, sleeping will restore the balance between the two. However, if drowsiness is suppressed and activity is continued, the parasympathetic nervous system dysfunction cannot be resolved, and chronic fatigue may occur. In addition, blood flow in the brain also deteriorates, resulting in lack of concentration and judgment.
Sleep is the most effective way to avoid this situation. Getting a good night’s sleep enhances the function of the parasympathetic nervous system, and balancing it with the sympathetic nervous system helps to recover from fatigue.

Stress relief

Sleep has the function of relieving mental fatigue. In addition, since it is expected to recover from fatigue in the brain, concentration, memory, and thinking ability as cognitive functions will be maintained and adjusted, leading to stress relief.
In addition, it has been found that lack of sleep increases the amount of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, but conversely, good sleep is thought to lead to suppression of stress hormone secretion.

Obesity prevention

There is a close relationship between sleep and obesity. It has been found that shorter sleep times reduce the secretion of the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite, and increase the secretion of the hormone ghrelin, which promotes appetite. It was also reported that the intake of high-carbohydrate snacks increased by 30%. In other words, if you sleep for a short time, the hormones related to appetite will be out of balance, and your appetite will increase, leading to obesity.
On the other hand, improving the quality of sleep helps maintain a proper balance of hormone secretion related to appetite and prevents the intake of extra energy sources. As a result, it can be said that it leads to prevention of obesity.

Maintaining good health

It makes it easier to adjust the rhythm of life, and the hormone balance and autonomic nervous system in the body are adjusted, so it can be expected to have the effect of maintaining good health. It also leads to mental health.

Beauty effect

Growth hormone secretion increases during deep sleep (non-rem sleep) that occurs immediately after falling asleep. This growth hormone not only has the function of activating not only health but also skin repair and metabolism that are pleasing to the skin. It also has functions such as keeping the skin firm and reducing wrinkles, so it is indispensable for anti-aging.
In other words, good sleep can be expected to have a great beauty effect.

Points to improve sleep quality

Lifestyle habit

Lifestyle is an important factor in improving sleep quality. That lifestyle has two roles. One is the direct role, when the habit itself provides a good night’s sleep, such as exercise or bathing. The other is an indirect role, and if you adjust the body clock that creates the rhythm of the day (about 24 hours) to 24 hours, you will develop regular sleep habits and improve the quality of sleep. Let me introduce a specific method.

● Life cycle / bedtime / wake-up time is constant
Sleep and awakening are adjusted by the body clock. Be aware that weekend nights, oversleeping on holidays, and taking too many naps will disturb the rhythm of your body clock. Get in the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time on weekdays and weekends.

● The
body clock that is exposed to the morning light is reset by waking up in the morning and receiving the sunlight on the body, and begins to tick the rhythm. When you wake up in the morning, open the curtains and shutters, or go out a little and soak up the morning light. There are reports of drowsiness 14 hours after waking up in the morning. In other words, if you oversleep in the morning, the time you get sleepy will be delayed.

● Avoid bathing just before going to bed, and the key
to getting a good night’s sleep in lukewarm water is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system before going to sleep. Slowly take a lukewarm bath at least 30 minutes (preferably at least 1 hour) before falling asleep to relieve mental and physical tension. Half-body baths have been shown to be less stressful to the heart, predominantly in the parasympathetic nervous system, and improve sleep quality.

● Moderate exercise
It is also important to get into the habit of moderate exercise. It is recommended that you exercise lightly in the afternoon rather than in the morning. Moderate physical fatigue produces a good night’s sleep. Be careful, as strenuous exercise can be a stimulus in itself and make it harder to fall asleep. It is effective to continue aerobic exercise for a long time without burdening you.

Dissipation of stress Stress is a great enemy for sleep. Find a hobby that suits you, such as music, reading, sports, and travel, to change your mood and avoid stress.

Eating habit

Eating habits are also very important for a good night’s sleep. Please try the following eating habits.

● Breakfast
can be a simple one, so consider the nutritional balance and eat it. It can help you wake up in the morning and sharpen your sleep and awakening rhythms.

● Refrain from eating a midnight snack before going to bed.
Digestive activity interferes with falling asleep, so refrain from eating. However, only a small amount of chocolate is considered to be good for sleeping. If you eat while you are sleeping, your body clock will be disturbed.

● Caffeine intake should be done 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.
Caffeine has a wakefulness effect, which may make it difficult to fall asleep or make sleep lighter. It also has a diuretic effect, which can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. If ingested, at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. People who are vulnerable to caffeine should refrain from caffeine intake after 3 pm.

● Avoid
nightcaps Alcohol promotes falling asleep, but it is a temporary effect. As with caffeine, you will be more awake while you sleep, your sleep will be lighter, and you will not feel a deep sleep.

● Take nutrients that can be expected to improve sleep quality
Be aware of nutrition for a good night’s sleep. Introducing nutrients that are considered to be good for sleep and foods that are high in those nutrients.

Nutrients that can be expected to improve sleep quality

Vitamin B 1
Working:Necessary when converting sugar into energy. When deficient, it affects the brain and nerves that use sugar as an energy source
Ingredients included:Pork, eel, brown rice, legumes, etc
Vitamin B 2
Working:Promotes lipid metabolism, produces energy and helps recover from fatigue
Ingredients included:Liver, natto, eggs, glue, cheese, etc
Vitamin B 6

Working:Involved in the synthesis of serotonin, which regulates deep sleep during sleep initiation and non-rem sleep

Ingredients included:Tuna, bonito, fillet (beef / pork), banana, etc


Working:Has the effect of calming excited nerves

Ingredients included:Soybeans, edamame, sardines, milk, cheese, etc


Working:Controls muscle contraction, relieves tense body and relaxes

Ingredients included:Green laver, wakame seaweed, kelp, peanuts, brown rice, soybeans, etc

Amino acid glycine

Working:Involved in falling asleep, depth of sleep, sleep satisfaction, daytime sleepiness, etc

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Ingredients included:Pork, scallops, dried squid, soybeans, etc

Amino acid tryptophan

Working:In addition to being a raw material for serotonin, which is essential for sleep and healing, it also produces melatonin, which produces the rhythm of sleep and awakening as a “body clock hormone” from serotonin

Ingredients included:Milk, nuts, tuna, chicken, etc

Note: Some of these nutrients have an upper limit due to the risk of overdose.

Vitamin B 1 in the table above tends to be deficient. Because it is water-soluble, it is easily lost in the cooking process and is not easily absorbed by the body. According to the daily vitamin B 1 intake statistics of the Japanese, it is believed that the majority of people are potentially deficient. In particular, there are statistics that young people have a high intake deficiency.

In such a case, one of the means is to improve the weaknesses of vitamin B 1 and supplement the vitamin B 1 derivative “fursultiamine” with the following characteristics from vitamin preparations.

[Characteristic 1] It is better absorbed from the digestive tract such as the small intestine than vitamin B 1 .
[Characteristic 2] It often migrates to tissues such as muscles and nerves.
[Characteristic 3] A large amount of the coenzyme “active vitamin B 1 ” that helps the production of energy and keeps the functions of nerves and the like normal is converted in the body.

Sleeping environment

Creating a comfortable sleeping environment will greatly improve the quality of your sleep. The points are “bedding,” “temperature and humidity,” and “light.”
● Bedding
that can maintain a sleeping posture (sleeping phase) with less burden on the specifics of sleep and has good heat retention, hygroscopicity, and moisture release is a condition for a good night’s sleep. You should be aware of the following when choosing.
・ Pillows that fit your body shape and are
comfortable on your neck and shoulders・ Comforters with moderate hardness and bed mats
・Comforters with a good fit

● Temperature Room temperature
is around 20 ℃ in winter, around 26 ℃ in summer, and humidity is It is said that it is good to keep it at about 40 to 70%. Let’s use the air conditioner well.

● Light
Too bright light at night may disturb the body clock. It is said that soft lighting such as the color of the setting sun is better than the whitish daylight color.

Improve your sleep quality and keep your daily life healthy!

There are many benefits to improving your sleep quality. Lifestyle, eating habits, and sleeping environment are all important for a good night’s sleep. If any of these have any sleep-disturbing issues, consider resolving them. However, it is difficult to try to solve everything at once in everyday life. Don’t be impatient, consider each one and improve your daily life little by little.
If your efforts do not improve, there may be some hidden illness. Talk to your medical institution as soon as possible.



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