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苦悩する男

ストレスが不眠の原因になる!「コルチゾール」と睡眠障害について

目閉男

 

ストレスが不眠の原因になるというのは誰もが知っていることだと思います。しかしそのメカニズムは意外と知られていないようです。メラトニンは知っていても、それと対になるコルチゾールについては、耳にしたことがないのではないでしょうか。

こちらでは、ストレスホルモン「コルチゾール」と睡眠障害についてご紹介します。

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睡眠とホルモン

不眠とストレス

悩む

不眠の中でもストレスが原因となっているものは多いと考えられます。ストレスを溜め込んだ状態でいざ眠ってみても、熟睡感や目覚めのすっきり感が得られないことが多いようです。これは、ストレスを感じた際に分泌される副腎皮質ホルモン「コルチゾール」の作用によるもの。このホルモンの影響により身体が緊張状態となり、深い睡眠を得ることが難しくなるのです。

ストレスホルモン・コルチゾール

コルチゾールは夜間に、血糖値を維持するために分泌されるホルモン。夜寝ている間に脳下垂体から副腎皮質刺激ホルモン(ACTH)が分泌され、副腎皮質に働きかけ、コルチゾールを分泌させます。コルチゾールは脂肪や、肝臓にたくわえられているグリコーゲンを分解して、ぶどう糖を血液中に補給します。これによって、睡眠中の血糖値を一定に保っているのです。

コルチゾールは朝型リズムの場合、だいたい夜中の3時ごろに分泌されるといわれています。そして夜明けに近づくにつれて、体温が上昇するとともに増えていき、目覚めに至ります。このとき、睡眠ホルモンであるメラトニンの分泌量は減少していきます。寝る前に、メラトニンとコルチゾールの分泌は、反比例の関係にあるのです。メラトニンは副交感神経を優位にし、コルチゾールは交感神経を刺激するからです。「明日何時に起きるぞ!」と強く思うと、体がそのことを覚えていて、不思議と目覚まし時計がなる直前に起きたりすることがあります。これは決めた時間帯が来る約1時間前に、急激にコルチゾールの分泌量が多くなるため。人は寝る前に意識することによって、朝起きる準備を体にさせることができるのです。寝る直前には、リラックスして血中のコルチゾール濃度は低い方が寝付きやすくなります。コルチゾールの分泌はストレス反応であり、血糖値や血圧を上昇させるからです。

睡眠ホルモン・メラトニン

メラトニンは、朝日を浴びてから約14~16時間後に分泌を開始するといわれています。朝8時に起きれば、だいたい夜の10時から12時ごろにメラトニンが分泌されます。そのため毎日、同じ時間に眠気が出てきて、眠ることができるのです。メラトニン分泌は,その作用により,睡眠初期のノンレム睡眠(大変深い睡眠)を実現します。睡眠初期のノンレム睡眠の効果をまとめると以下のようになります。

  • 大脳皮質を充分に休める
  • 成長ホルモンによる身体の成長,修復および疲労回復を助ける
  • コルチゾールの分泌を抑制する
  • 嫌な記憶を消去する
  • 脳細胞を修復・保護する

ストレスが不眠をもたらす仕組み

本来、コルチゾールは日中のストレスに対向するため、朝目覚めてからの数十分のあいだに大量に分泌されます。これを「起床時コルチゾール反応」と呼び、自身のストレス状態を表すとも言われているのです。睡眠に支障をきたすと、この量が低いことが研究により明らかになっているようです。つまり、良い眠りができていなければストレスに対する抵抗力が低下し、更に日中溜め込まれるストレスの影響でぐっすり眠れない…という悪循環に陥ってしまうのです。

不眠症患者の一日のコルチゾール分泌総量は、不眠がない人と比較すると多いことが明らかになっています。このコルチゾールは睡眠時に分解されています。従って、大量のストレスを溜め込んでいればその分泌に時間がかかってしまうことになります。ストレスが溜まっていると眠気に襲われるのに眠り自体は浅いというのは、コルチゾールの影響で脳や身体がきちんと休息できていないためと言えるでしょう。

睡眠障害の対策方法

コルチゾールの分泌を抑える

必須のホルモンですが、不足することはありえないそうで、有害性のほうがはるかに大きいです。コルチゾールを出来る限り少なく保ちましょう。

  • 起床直後に炭水化物を摂取する
  • 早朝にコーヒーを飲まない
  • 睡眠を十分に取る
  • ストレスを溜めない

メラトニンの分泌を助ける

コルチゾールの分泌を抑制する働きのあるメラトニンの生成も大事です。夜の適切な過ごし方がカギになります。夜7〜8時以降は,強い光に当たらないようにしましょう。また、寝る前に勉強するなら部屋を暗くしてしましょう。入浴、食事は寝る2〜3時間前までに終えましょう。寝る前のコーヒーや緑茶などのカフェインは避けましょう。

まとめ: ストレスホルモン「コルチゾール」対策で睡眠改善

ストレスホルモン「コルチゾール」は睡眠障害の原因となります。このホルモンの影響により身体が緊張状態となり、深い睡眠を得ることが難しくなるのです。抑制効果のあるメラトニンの生成促進もあわせて、対策方法をおさらいしておきましょう。

  • 起床直後に炭水化物を摂取する
  • 早朝にコーヒーを飲まない
  • 睡眠を十分に取る
  • ストレスを溜めない
  • 夜7〜8時以降は,強い光に当たらない
  • 寝る前に勉強するなら部屋を暗くして
  • 入浴、食事は寝る2〜3時間前までに
  • コーヒーや緑茶などのカフェインは避ける

この記事を参考に、質の良い睡眠を手に入れてくださいね。

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