Professor Norio Matsuki Lectures on Sleep and Sleeping Pills

On October 2, Prof. Norio Matsuki gave a lecture primarily for University of Tokyo alumni on the theme of “Sleep and Sleeping Pills” at Tiger Pacific Capital, LP located in mid-Manhattan. Professor Matsuki is Special Professor at the Vision Research Center, the University of Tokyo. He is an Executive Vice-President and board member of the University of Tokyo and also serves on the Board of Friends of UTokyo. He has been a member of the Japan Pharmaceutical Society and the Japanese Pharmacological Society, and served as President (Rijicho) and Chairman of the Year (Nen kaicho) at both associations.
The lecture began with the question “Why is sleep necessary?”. He explained that the sleeping time and form vary largely, depending on the animal species. He continued to discuss the role and quality of sleep in animals. In addition, focusing on neurotransmission, he explained the mechanism of sleeping and stated that the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission arousal-inducing nervous system and their inhibitory nervous system is important for sound sleep. Further, he discussed the main types of hypnotic drugs (benzodiazepine, orexin antagonist, melatonin -receptor agonists, etc.) and how they promote sleep. He introduced certain surprising background on how each medicine was discovered and developed.
According to available data, the prescription rate of antidepressant drugs is comparatively low in Japan, while the prescription rate of hypnotics is higher than those of other countries. Prof. Matsuki pointed out that in comparison to antidepressants, sleep-inducing drugs may encounter less resistance among Japanese. He also referred to results of experiments on the relation between memory and alcohol, commenting that fear memory is reinforced by alcohol intake.
Prof. Matsuki recommended that before seeking the help of sleeping pills, one may try other measures such as improving the environment of sleep (light, vibration, and bedding), or to help the sleep routine by focusing more on the waking experience such as getting more exposure to sunlight when waking up. However, he cautioned that when the cause of sleeplessness is due to a condition such as depression, its treatment must take priority. He concluded his lecture with a message that it is a good practice not to be overly concerned with having high-quality sleep.
Dr. Matsuki’s lecture was followed by a stimulating question and answer session reflecting the fact that sleep is a topic of interest to all. At closing, Mr. Junji Takegami, Managing Partner of Tiger Pacific Capital LP, thanked the professor for a very successful lecture.
Author: Kaoru Kakinuma Translation: FUTI

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