Intervention study using a leaflet entitled ‘three benefits of “go to bed early! get up early! and intake nutritionally rich breakfast!” a message for athletes’ to improve the soccer performance of university soccer team


A new educational material was created for athletes. It was focused on three benefits of a morning-typed lifestyle and actual strategies for promoting this lifestyle. The material is a leaflet entitled, “Three benefits from going to bed early, getting up early and taking nutritionally rich breakfast. Message to athletes!” This study tried to evaluate the educational efficacy of a month-long intervention using this leaflet on Japanese university soccer team members. Eighty-four members of university soccer team were asked to participate in a month-long intervention from mid-November, 2011. Just before and 3 months after the intervention period, an anonymous integrated questionnaire was administered to participants. Another questionnaire including questions on the change in soccer performance was administered at the middle and the end of intervention month. Responses were received from more than 95 % of the soccer team members. The participants just after the intervention tend to show higher quality of sleep (p = 0.020) and lower frequency of irritation (p = 0.006) than those before the intervention. Analysis on the sleep diary including questions on the implementation of 8 issues as contents of the leaflet showed that the sleep latency and sleep quality at nights when participants used computer game, was longer (p < 0.001) and worse (p < 0.001), respectively than those at nights when they did not. The positive and significant correlation was shown between mental health (GHQ) just after the intervention and the improvement of soccer performance (Better mental health correlates with performance improvement) (p < 0.001). In the best performance team (A+), 70 % of the team changed to more morning-typed and significant and positive correlation between the diurnal type scores (high scores mean morning-typed) just after the intervention and degree of performance improvement (morning-type correlates with performance improvement) (p < 0.001). The intervention using the leaflet could be effective for improvement of soccer performance via changing to morning-typed life.

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We would like to sincerely thank all participants and all staff who supported this epidemiological study. This study was financially supported by Academic Supporting Foundation by President of Kochi University (2009–2012: To T. Harada), Academic Supporting Foundation by Dean of Faculty of Education, Kochi University (2008–2009: To T. Harada) and Foundations from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Foundation No. 22370089: To T. Harada, Foundation No. 23-10971 to K. Wada) (2010–2014).

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Correspondence to Tetsuo Harada.


Appendix 1: English version of the whole contents of the leaflet which was used for the intervention of one month to Japanese University athletes

You would get three benefits from ‘going to bed early’, ‘getting up early’ and ‘having a breakfast’.

Message to mothers of small children!

The three benefits:

  1. 1.

    You can get advances in playing performance.

  2. 2.

    You can enhance stamina and fitness in advance.

  3. 3.

    Your body becomes hard to be injured and if injured easy to be cured.

[Indeed!! But..WHY??!!]

A quick lesson on REM sleep and non-REM sleep

During a night of sleep, we have two-kinds of sleeps which have completely different character. Non-REM sleep can be defined as brain’s sleep. On the other, REM sleep means body’s sleep. While Non REM sleep, electric activities of 14,000,000,000 neurons in a cerebrum take a pause. Under the REM sleep, the cerebrum is dreaming. In other words, it works actively. According to a certain research, the dreaming makes our brain fix new memories taken in the last day and consolidate whole memories in order generally. ‘Electronic inputs from sensory neurons to brain, and output activities from brain to body muscles via motor neurons have a rest during REM sleep. Non-REM sleep appears first, and REM sleep follows it in a sleep cycle; approximately every 90–120 min. Non-REM sleep in the first sleep cycle is so deep with high amplitude and low frequency of brain waves. On the contrary in the last 2 sleep cycles, REM sleep continues quite long for 40 or 60 min.

Three reasons why you as athletes mark better playing performance

  1. 1.

    The temporal new memories taken at training or practice in the last day can be fixed to the appropriate part of brain, if you have many REM sleep!

If you have sufficient REM sleep, the temporal new memories taken at training or practice in the last day can be fixed in the brain (a research group got a proof of this role of the REM sleep). Because whole memories can be reconsolidated in order, the correct and appropriate judgment can be possible in some scenes of games, for example.

Easy or careless misses get to decrease at games, because the body input and output systems take a rest during REM sleep. Much of REM sleep is lost due to a delayed bedtime, because most of REM appears during the last one or two sleep cycles. REM sleep is ease to appear at a fixed time zone of 04:00–07:00 and after a continuous long sleep hours. Therefore the morning-typed habits are the only way to take enough REM sleep.

  1. 2.

    Because if the phase coupling of two biological clocks was in good one, the mental health becomes better and have well willing to play as athletes

There are 2 separate internal clocks in our body. If we live in a clock-less room, the two internal clocks (one is main clock driving autonomic nervous system which controls for example core body temperature cycle, and another driving sleep-wake rhythm) are synchronized. However, in 30 % of participants, the two clocks desynchronize having separated periods of a little more than 24 and 35–50 h, 2 weeks later. This de-synchronization occurs within 1–2 months in all participants. The de-synchronization is the two clocks out of the phase-coupling which could destroy ones mental health. We usually set (entrain) our internal clock on (to) outside time (several 24 h cycles); like a light, temperature, some social activities at a definitely fixed time. According to our epidemiological studies for the last 15 years, the morning types people work the setting as entrainment well, and so his/hers coupling is good and also his/hers mental health. However, the entrainment works rude in the evening-typed people in whom the coupling is poor, and so mental health is worse (e.g., irritation, anxiety, depression, and so on) than morning-typed ones. Morning- typed life style: “Going to bed early, Getting up early, and Taking a nutritionally rich breakfast” is good for mental health which should be prepared before daily training and playing as athletes.

  1. 3.

    Concentration on the playing as athletes is improved because of increased synthesis and secretion of serotonin in the brain.

Investigations for the infants in Kochi-city and students of Football Club-Kochi University say that if you have a sun light after taking the NATTO (fermented soy beans) or bananas at breakfast, tryptophan included in NATTO was metabolized to serotonin in the brain with help of sun exposure and Vitamin B6 (coenzyme of enzymes to synthesize serotonin from tryptophan) included in the banana. The high concentration of serotonin in the brain improves the concentration at playing. The serotonin turns into melatonin at night, and it helps a sleep introduction, in a night time. The melatonin orders our brain to go to bed early.

The reason why the morning-typed life can enhance stamina and fitness in advance

Recent our studies said that the phase advance as 1–2 h of sleep-wake cycles makes the amplitude of activity rhythms larger and the total activity amount of whole day increased to 1.5 times. This means the prevention of obese because of the metabolism increased.

Another recent study suggested that the phase advance of circadian clock due to the morning-typed life leads to the change of transcript of a “clock gene” BMAL 1 which increases the amount of fundamental metabolism. This change was suggested to increase the total volume of mitochondria which leads the increase of the amount of metabolism. This study investigated the effect of the modulation of the BMAL 1 on the amount of mitochondria in muscles in mouse and was successful for making “red-muscles mouse” which can run the longer distance continuously than auditory mouse. This implies that morning-typed life leads to enhance stamina and fitness in advance for athletes via the increase of “red-muscles”.

The reason why the morning-typed life can make the body of athletes become hard to be injured and if injured easy to be cured

It’s because of a growth hormone. The hormone promotes to grow for child and bring restoration of body parts for example skins, small vessels and skeleton muscles broken due to severe training in day time for athletes. Timing of synthesis and secretion of growth hormone to the circulating system is fixed to around 23 O’clock for young adults, because of circadian clock. Moreover, the stages with slow brain waves in Non-REM sleep are needed for the full secretion of the growth hormones. Therefore, late bed-time reduces the amount of secreted growth hormone for athletes. Late bed time is dangerous for athletes because the low amount of growth hormone secreted cannot repair the damage of muscles and small vessels due to training in the previous day. The damage accumulates every day and finally leads to be injured, and the injury was hard to be repaired if bedtime is late and growth hormone is not sufficiently secreted.

Athletes are recommended to go to bed 22 O’clock!

Habits recommended in usual life to change your diurnal rhythms to morning-typed!

LIGHT works more influence than medicines

Step 1: Let’s be exposed to sunshine or a fluorescent (or blue and white LED) lights as soon as you get up early in the morning!

In the summer the sun rises early, let’s hang the THIN curtains. In the winter sun rises lately, let’s turn on ALL OF THE FLUORESCENT LIGHTS whole your home.

REASON (We have an evidence on it.): It makes phase of the internal clock advanced. The clock phase has a little bit longer period than 24 h and is ease to be delayed in comparison with environmental 24 h cycles.

Step 2: Let’s be exposed to the sunshine after the breakfast!

REASON (We have an evidence on it.) Big amount of serotonin, a neuroamine which promotes concentration on learning and working was synthesized and secreted in the brain, and this serotonin peak could become inner zeitgeber which can keep circadian clock phase not delayed but fixed.

Step 3: Let’s turn AN INCANDESCENT LAMP on after sunset.

REASON (We have an evidence on it.): Because sleep introduction hormone; the melatonin comes out to blood at night, you can get sleep soon. Blue light (mainly lights with 460 nm of wave length) which contains in a fluorescent light suppresses the melatonin secretion.

Recommendation for lighting

  1. 1.

    Daytime lighting: Lighting similar to “the SUN”: a fluorescent light and Blue or White LED (lights with high color-temperature recommended).

  2. 2.

    Nighttime lighting: This lighting is similar to the MOON = an incandescent lamp; a fireplace, a candle, a sunken hearth (lights with low color-temperature recommended).

CONTENTS of breakfast are important!

Recommendation is taking some PROTEIN RESOURSES in a breakfast! Especially ‘NATTO = fermented soybeans’ is the best recommendation. It’s amazing food, because the coefficient of digestibility is 98 %. It means that you take natto a bit, the tryptophan, precursor for serotonin is absorbed. A boiled egg can be recommended for the children who don’t like ‘NATTO’. Let’s prepare it in the previous night. Of course the hams, the bacons, the dry fishes and baked fish are also effective. Let’s add more one dish as the protein resource to usual breakfast. Because rich protein foods have also vitamin B6 which is effective to a serotonin synthesis. It is excellent to have some vegetables and fruits additionally!!

Let’s limit the watching time TV& using time any games in the night time! Please make a “NO-TV and NO-GAME day” every week

Ratio of elementary school and junior high school students who have the apparatus for electric games is increasing now in Japan. For kindergarten children and 1st and 2nd grades students in elementary school, playing electric games after sunsets more than 1 h (more than 2 h for junior high school students) or everyday use makes sleep and mental health worse. (There are research evidences on it.) Let’s make no-games day! The melatonin is suppressed by watching the TV in the night, which can delay the phase of circadian clock of children (there are research evidences on it).

Let’s reduce the time of watching TV at evening or night!! Let’s make a NO-TV-DAY!


Evening-typed life style is the greatest enemies for women to keep health! Get the pleasant days based on morning-typed life style!!

A relationship between the shift to evening-type of women students in junior high school and heavy use of mobile phone

Results of research by a research team of Prof. Harada showed that the shift to evening-type of Japanese junior high women students is going on and one of the reasons of the “evening-typed life” is heavy use of mobile phone at night.

If girls become evening-type, a menstrual cycle, as a fundamental physiological system for reproduction, becomes out-of order (like as irregular menstruation timing), severer menstrual pain, severer symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS: mental and physical disorders like as head ache and irritation). The junior high school days for girls is very important period for constructing this reproductive system including menstrual cycle. If the girls cannot keep morning-typed life, this physiological construction is out-of order and would not be able to secure a strong and healthy menstrual cycle. The junior high school students who have received sleep guidance tend to be morning-typed currently.

Please make sleep guidance for your child as a preparation to the future.

These facts completely apply to junior high school students.

It’s absolutely women that can gain great profit from morning-type life

The morning-type life style makes a menstrual cycle be stabilized and strong with regular cycles. That is to say, it’s absolutely women that can gain great profit from morning-type life.

Appendix 2: A questionnaire on the change in the performance between pre-intervention stage and end point of one month intervention

In comparison with the performance before the intervention, how has each of the following 11 components of your soccer performance changed from beginning to the end of intervention month? Please put the circle (check) on the appropriated numeral. If you have the other kind of change in soccer performance and other changes in your life, please write down in the bottom space.

1. Assessment of the present situation ➀ Faster ➁ Faster a little ➂ No change ➃ Slower a little ⑤ Slower
2. Visual field on playing ➀ Wider ➁ Wider a little ➂ No change ➃ Narrower a little ⑤ Narrower
3. Movement of foot ➀ Lighter ➁ Lighter a little ➂ No change ➃ Heavier a little ⑤ Heavier
4. Rudimentary mistake ➀ Reduced ➁ Reduced a few ➂ No change ➃ Increased a few ⑤Increased
5. First touch ➀ Better ➁ Better a little ➂ No change ➃ Worse a little ⑤ Worse
6. Irritation on playing ➀ Reduced ➁ Reduced a few ➂ No change ➃ Increased a few ⑤ Increased
7. Running out of Stamina ➀ Reduced ➁ Reduced a few ➂ No change ➃ Increased a few ⑤ Increased
8. Injury on playing ➀ Reduced ➁ Reduced a few ➂ No change ➃ Increased a few ⑤ Increased
9. Body balance ➀ Better ➁ Better a little ➂ No change ➃ Worse a little ⑤ Worse
10. Precision of long kick ➀ Better ➁ Better a little ➂ No change ➃ Worse a little ⑤ Worse
11. Motivation for the practice ➀ Better ➁ Better a little ➂ No change ➃ Worse a little ⑤ Worse
12. If you have the other kind of change in soccer performance and also other changes in your life, please write down in the bottom space      

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Harada, T., Wada, K., Tsuji, F. et al. Intervention study using a leaflet entitled ‘three benefits of “go to bed early! get up early! and intake nutritionally rich breakfast!” a message for athletes’ to improve the soccer performance of university soccer team. Sleep Biol. Rhythms 14, 65–74 (2016).

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  • Intervention
  • Leaflet
  • Morning-typed lifestyle
  • Diurnal type scale
  • Japanese university soccer team
  • Computer game