Have you ever wished you could just sleep and wake up the next day in your perfect body?
What if I tell you that there’s a way to sleep and wake up slim?
In your dreams! Just kidding…
But seriously, if you need to lose weight and love sleeping, I’ve got good news for you. While you can’t sleep away all your excess fat overnight, sleep plays a vital role in your weight loss journey.
Here, we’ll talk about what scientific research studies say about the sleep and weight loss relationship. Using that knowledge, we can then look at 5 ways you could burn more fat and lose weight in your sleep.
If you’re ready, let’s begin.
Sleep and Weight Loss Relationship: Do you burn fat while you sleep?
Yes, you can burn fat while you sleep but that’s not the point.
According to this article, our bodies typically burn 0.42 of calories for every pound of body weight for every hour of sleep. That’s a tiny amount of calories compared to what we burn when we’re awake either active or resting.
But our sleep significantly affects a lot of mechanisms in the body including our hormones and metabolism which are key players in managing our weight.
Enough sleep boosts your metabolism, reduces hunger, improves insulin sensitivity.
An article on Psychology Today mentioned a study comparing 2 groups of overweight non-smokers. Both groups ate roughly the same amount of calories but one group slept for 5.5 hours (they said it’s the “norm” of today) and the other group for 8.5 hours and the results are surprising.
After two weeks, the group who slept more burned 400 more calories per day and lost more fat while the sleep-deprived group lost more muscle. The lack of sleep put their body into a fat-preservation mode at the expense of muscle.
The sleep-deprived group also produced more ghrelin which is our hunger hormone –meaning they woke up hungrier than the other group.
Your hunger and satiety are affected even with slight sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep has been shown in another study to result in increased levels of ghrelin by 28% and decreased levels of leptin by 18% within just 2 consecutive nights of 4-hour periods of sleep. While ghrelin signals hunger, leptin signals satiety.
Another study featured in an article on WebMd revealed that within just 4 days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to process insulin slows down, insulin sensitivity drops by 30%, which means you’ll be storing more fat.
Lack of sleep produces more cortisol (stress hormones) which contribute to weight gain.
Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next morning according to research. And you already know that high stress levels are linked to weight gain and abdominal fat even on slender women as one study shows.
Normally, our cortisol levels taper off later in the day to prepare our bodies for rest. However, sleep deprivation slows down the rate of decrease in your cortisol levels.
This leaves you with elevated evening stress levels which are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes.‘
What makes it worse is that stress can also cause lack of sleep and we already know that lack of sleep raises your stress levels. You don’t want to get caught in that vicious cycle.
In short, getting enough sleep is crucial for the processes that affect our health. Sleeping, on its own, won’t make you slim but it’s the systems that are affected by our sleep that may make or break our weight loss goals.
Now that we know a bit more about how sleep can affect our weight, we can now utilize it to maximize our fat burning during our sleep.
5 Ways to Burn More Fat While You Sleep
Here are 5 simple but effective things you can do to lose weight while you sleep. Now it might be easy to dismiss some of these as just common sense but most people aren’t doing it even if they know they should.
You might be surprised at how much these tiny changes can affect your weight loss goals. Try out some or all of these and see if it works for you!
1. Sleep early and get enough quality sleep.
However, every person is different. Experiment with your sleep to know which works best for your body.
One way to make sure you get enough sleep is to sleep early. If you find it hard to do, here are some techniques that might help you:
Avoid drinking coffee beyond 2 p.m. The effects of caffeine usually peak at around 30 to 60 minutes after drinking. However, caffeine can stay in your system and might keep you awake for up to 6 hours after consuming it.
Try setting a sleep schedule for yourself and don’t use your phone, tv or other electronics at least an hour before your bedtime. The blue light from these devices can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep.
If you have a workout routine then you may be better of exercising in the morning since it has a lot of surprising benefits. If not, try to do it at least 4 hours before your bedtime so you won’t have trouble sleeping.
2. Don’t be afraid of the dark.
Sleeping in complete darkness or a dark room will help your body produce melatonin which helps you feel sleepy. A study revealed that melatonin also aids in the production of brown fat that is needed to metabolize calories.
Scientists discovered that injecting melatonin helped combat obesity and diabetes in rats by regulating their systems. They now believe that this could have a similar impact on humans.
The good news is, we don’t need injections since melatonin is naturally produced in our bodies.
However, because our modern lifestyle exposes us to light from lamps, tv, our phone, and other electronics even at night, the production of melatonin is disrupted.
That’s why it is recommended that we sleep in complete darkness to avoid disruption of melatonin production.
3. Eat the bulk of your calories during the day.
We know that insulin serves an important role in our body including the storage of fat. Simply put, when insulin levels are high you’re body stores fat and when it’s low you’re burning fat for energy.
By eating the bulk of your meals, especially your carbs, during the day, your insulin levels will be low enough by the time you sleep and you’ll be burning fat while you sleep!
Make sure to eat to satisfaction during the day so that you won’t get hungry at night.
This is one way you’ll be able to lose weight without going on a low-carb or keto diet or any other restrictive diet depriving yourself of the foods you love.
Of course, if you become really hungry at night for whatever reason, then go ahead and eat. A strict restriction may just lead you to binge eat.
4. Spice up your meals!
Add generous amounts of cayenne pepper, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and other spices to your meals. Not only will you get more flavor from your food, but you’ll also burn more calories even when you sleep.
Spices contain capsaicin which according to a study, can give you a slight metabolism boost — meaning you can burn more calories throughout the day even at rest.
5. Chill in your bedroom… literally!
Sleeping in a cool room makes your body work harder to keep you warm and stabilize your temperature. It does this by using your brown fat to produce heat and maintain body temperature.
A study was conducted with 5 healthy men who were exposed to a mild cold temperature of around 19 °C (66 °F) for at least 10 hours each night during their sleep.
After a month, the participants had a 42% increase in brown fat volume, a 10% increase in fat metabolic activity, and improved insulin sensitivity after a meal. It also resulted in significant changes in metabolic hormones such as leptin and adiponectin.
However, the results were reversed when they were exposed to warmer temperatures for the final month of the study.
This may suggest that our bodies produce more brown fat in cool temperatures which may lead to improvement in glucose metabolism but these changes may be reversed following exposure to warm temperatures.
So what are you waiting for? Make your weight loss goal a dream come true!
Now that we know how sleep affects weight loss and how to make it work for us, I can say that there’s truth to the classic adage: “You snooze, you lose.” but in a positive way for those who want to lose weight.
If you want some other ways to lose weight without dieting, check out these 7 small changes you could do to lose weight.