Research Project

Basic Research: The Pathogenesis of Sleep & Biological Rhythm Disorders

We are attempting to clarify the regulatory mechanisms of sleep-waking and biological rhythms in humans. We are also trying to clarify the pathogenesis of sleep disorders and biological rhythm disorders, and are researching the effects of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders on cognitive and physical function.

Clinical Research: The Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Sleep Disorders

We are developing diagnostic methods for sleep disorders and biological rhythm disorders.

  • Algorithms for online differential diagnosis tools
  • Diagnostic methods using molecular markers
  • Methods for the prevention of insomnia, depression and suicide
  • Methods for making differential diagnoses of insomnia, day-night reversal, and behavioral abnormalities associated with dementia

We are also developing treatment methods for sleep disorders and biological rhythm disorders.

  • Treatment guidelines for sleep disorders
  • More effective treatment programs
  • Clinical trials of sleep disorder medication
  • Evaluations of the efficacy and side effects of existing medication

We are currently conducting a large-scale epidemiological study examining the prevalence of sleep disorders, the use of psychotropic medication, and long-term prognosis.

Results Thus Far and Future Goals

Elucidation of the pathogenesis of sleep disorder through large-scale epidemiological studies

  • 1 in 5 Japanese have sleep problems
  • 2 in 3 demented patients have sleep disorders
  • The amount of sleep medication and rate of polypharmacy are increasing
  • Sleep problems result in economic losses of 3.5 trillion yen a year

Development of effective diagnostic and treatment systems for sleep disorders

  • Diagnostic and treatment guideline for sleep disorders
  • Practice guidelines for proper use and cessation of sleep medication
  • Clinical evaluation guidelines for sleep disorder medication
  • Guidelines for developing a collaborative system among sleep disorders centers and other medical resources to establish a policy-based medical service network for sleep medicine
  • Healthy Japan 21 program: Creating sleep hygiene guidelines

Clarification of sleep & biological rhythm control mechanisms

  • Identification of pathological mechanism of circadian rhythm sleep disorders Identification of susceptibility genes to sleep and circadian rhythm disorders
  • Identification of genes that define the human chronotypes
  • Evaluation of circadian rhythm functions by in vitro measurement of circadian rhythm gene transcription in peripheral cells
  • Clarification of brain sites of action of sleeping pills and brain activity during sleep by PET studies
  • Clarification of the neural mechanisms of insomnia and lack of sleep that can cause depression by fMRI studies