Effect of sleep efficiency on salivary metabolite profile and cognitive function during exercise in volleyball athletes

  • Nobuhiko Akazawa
  • Naoko Kobayashi
  • Yuki Nakamura
  • Hiroshi Kumagai
  • Youngju Choi
  • Seiji MaedaEmail author
Original Article



Sleep duration is known to affect physiological and circadian metabolites and human homeostasis. However, little is known about the relationship between sleep quality and metabolite and cognitive function during exercise. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of sleep quality on metabolite level and cognitive function in female volleyball athletes.


Twelve female volleyball athletes participated in this study. Sleep efficiency was measured for 1 week using NemuriSCAN (Paramount Bed Co. Ltd., Japan) as an index of sleep quality. The subjects were divided into better (n = 6) and lesser (n = 6) sleep quality groups by the median value of sleep efficiency. Saliva samples were collected using a Salimetric oral swab cotton and salivary metabolites were analysed using capillary electrophoresis and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The subjects performed Stroop tasks (simple and difficult tasks) at rest and during aerobic exercise in recumbent cycle ergometer at light and heavy intensity.


Increased sleep efficiency was found in the better sleep quality group, whereas total sleep time was similar. There were differences in urea cycle and Krebs cycle metabolites between the two groups; their levels were correlated with sleep efficiency. The difficult-task response time during heavy exercise was faster in the better sleep quality group.


We demonstrated that sleep efficiency was associated with urea cycle and Krebs cycle metabolite levels and response time during heavy exercise in volleyball athletes. These results suggested that sleep quality may affect amino acid and energy metabolism and cognitive function during heavy exercise.


Cognitive function Sleep efficiency Metabolome Athlete Exercise intensity 



Capillary electrophoresis and time-of-flight mass spectrometry


Heart rate reserve


Nitric oxide


Author contributions

NA and SM conceived and designed research. NA and NK conducted experiments. NA, NK, YN, HK, and YC collected and analyzed data. NA wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


This study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI, Grant Number 26282181.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nobuhiko Akazawa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Naoko Kobayashi
    • 3
  • Yuki Nakamura
    • 3
  • Hiroshi Kumagai
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  • Youngju Choi
    • 2
  • Seiji Maeda
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Sport SciencesJapan Institute of Sport SciencesTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and Sport SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Comprehensive Human SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Graduate School of Health and Sports ScienceJuntendo UniversityInzaiJapan
  5. 5.Japan Society for the Promotion of ScienceTokyoJapan

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