By Yukiko Uto / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterAn increasing number of people are becoming concerned about their sleep. Consulting rooms and smartphone apps proposing ways to get good-quality sleep have become popular, and some companies are even providing sleep seminars for employees.
"You roll over less than you should in your sleep," said Maiko Watanabe, 31, head of Nemuri no Sodanjo, a consultation center for specialty bedding maker Nishikawa Sangyo Co., as she looked at data on a computer screen. Nemuri no Sodanjo opened this spring in Yurakucho, Tokyo.
People who undertake a consultation wear a device around their waist for about a week. Their bedtimes, sleep positions and how often they roll over are monitored, and they also have their necks and other body parts measured.
Based on the results, the reasons for their sleeplessness are determined and an appropriate sleep environment is proposed.
Norie Yamauchi, 53, from Koto Ward, Tokyo, came to the center after she began waking up frequently during the night. An analysis revealed the mattress she had been using for more than 10 years no longer fit her body.
"It was good that I was presented with ways to make improvements after measurements were taken," she said.
I also underwent a sleep check, as I have a hard time waking up in the morning. It was found that I was rolling over 12 times per night, less than the general 20 to 30 times during a seven-hour sleep.
Measurements of the head and neck showed that a low pillow — instead of the high pillow that I prefer — would fit me best. Following the advice that "it’s hard to roll over if your pillow does not fit," I replaced my pillow with a thinner one and soon found I was able to wake up easily in the morning.
Apps play coaching role
Some apps for smartphones give advice on good sleep, too. Sleep Coach allows users to chat with advisers with private qualifications in sleep health for eight weeks, using such data as bedtimes and wake-up times.
"It’s important to be aware of the problem by making your own records and setting a goal," said Yoichiro Hamazaki, 52, who was in charge of the app’s development. Hamazaki is president of Nemulog, Inc. of Teijin Ltd. "The 'coach’ helps users acquire good sleeping habits," he added.
Information technology engineer Masahiko Negishi, 28, from Meguro Ward, Tokyo, began using the app in June.
He had the problem of waking up in the predawn and being unable to go back to sleep.
An app coach pointed out, "You spend a long time watching TV or looking at your smartphone before falling asleep."
Following the advice, Negishi started shifting his mind to "sleep mode" by switching off the TV, not using his smartphone in bed and changing into pajamas. He said he was able to enjoy a deep sleep within two weeks.
Businesses have started recognizing the importance of sleep.
Nippon Parking Development Co., an Osaka-based firm managing building parking lots, introduced an e-learning program in July that teaches about the importance of sleep.
The company has had some of its employees in charge of sales promotion in Tokyo take part in the program, hoping it will "help them work efficiently."
The number of companies holding seminars for their employees has been increasing. Yuichi Inoue, a doctor and the president of Yoyogi Sleep Disorder Center, said: "Lack of sleep obviously causes health problems, such as depression. Businesses need to take measures to help their employees secure an average of seven or eight hours of sleep a night."Speech