How to burn more calories when you sleep: an intriguing concept that taps into the hidden potential of our bodies during rest. While you may naturally associate calories burned with vigorous exercise and physical activity, it is essential not to overlook the crucial role that sleep plays in this overall process.
Sleep has been scientifically proven to play a crucial role in your overall health and metabolism, and understanding the connection between sleep and calorie burn can offer surprising insights into your weight management journey1.
By understanding the importance of sleep for overall health and metabolism, delving into the connection between sleep and calorie burn, and acknowledging the potential for enhancing calorie burn during rest, you’ll be equipped with valuable knowledge to make informed decisions and create positive changes in your sleep habits.
So, let’s embark on this journey of discovery to harness the power of sleep and maximize your body’s calorie-burning potential while you rest.
Role Of Sleep In Weight Management
Your body weight determines the amount of calories burned. Sleep deprivation, characterized by inadequate or poor-quality sleep, can significantly affect metabolism. When you do not get enough sleep, your body’s ability to regulate energy balance and metabolism becomes disrupted, leading to potential weight gain2.
Sleep is crucial in regulating hunger hormones, impacting appetite and food intake. Sleep inadequate or disrupted can lead to imbalances in hormones that control hunger and satiety, potentially leading to overeating and gaining weight3.
Research has established a strong association between poor sleep and weight gain. Chronic sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can disrupt the body’s metabolic processes and contribute to weight gain over time. According to the studies, young people and children who get little sleep are more likely to become obese than older persons who get more sleep, but the relationship is not always there4.
Factors Affecting Calorie Burn While Sleeping
While you may envision burning calories through activities like lifting weights or engaging in strenuous runs, it’s important to recognize that your body continues to burn calories even during sleep.
As you rest, essential bodily functions such as breathing, heart function, and digestion require a continuous expenditure of calories to maintain their operation.
Let’s understand further how sleep affects calorie burn.
Basal Metabolic Rate
You must first determine your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. BMR, also referred to as your body’s metabolism, is the sum of calories required to maintain normal bodily functions while at rest5.
Based on an individual’s weight, gender, and age, BMR varies. Your typical daily movement is a factor in determining your basal metabolic rate. That refers to how much you move regularly. Unfortunately, a single workout won’t provide you with an exact change in metabolic rate for your computation.
Since working out your BMR is a complicated process, what you can measure is your resting metabolic rate or RMR. RMR significantly determines how many calories the body burns at rest. It represents the energy expenditure to maintain essential bodily functions while resting.
Several studies have explored the relationship between sleep duration and the quality of metabolic rate6. In a study published in 2018, researchers investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on metabolic rate and metabolic markers.
The study involved healthy young adults who underwent two experimental conditions: one with normal sleep (8.5 hours per night) and the other with sleep restriction (4.5 hours per night). The results showed that after four nights of sleep restriction, participants’ resting metabolic rate decreased significantly compared to the normal sleep condition. This suggests inadequate sleep can reduce RMR, potentially affecting overall calorie burn during sleep and wakefulness7.
Body Composition and Muscle Mass
The body’s composition, particularly lean muscle mass, influences its overall calories burned, including sleep. Muscle tissue requires more energy than fat tissue, leading to a higher resting metabolic rate in individuals with higher muscle mass.
Researchers found that shorter sleep duration was associated with a higher percentage of body fat and lower muscle mass in adolescents. This implies that poor sleep habits could lead to unfavorable changes in body composition, impacting calorie burn during sleep and daily activities8.
The higher body mass you have, your body will burn more calories as you relax, sleep, and engage in other activities. Men typically have more muscular mass than women, which causes men to burn more calories at rest9. Compared to fat, muscle burns more calories when at rest.
Sleep Quality and Duration
You might be obsessed over how many calories you burn during the day but don’t realize you can burn calories by getting enough sleep. Enough sleep and duration play vital roles in the body’s ability to burn calories during restful sleep.
A study in 2018 examined the relationship between sleep duration, good night’s sleep, sleep efficiency, and energy intake.
The researchers found that individuals with shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep efficiency had higher caloric information, particularly from fats and carbohydrates.
Additionally, participants with disrupted sleep patterns showed alterations in hormones associated with hunger and satiety. These findings indicate that improving sleep quality and duration may positively impact calorie burn during sleep and weight management10.
Another study examined 3,052 women and 3,055 men between the ages of 70 and 99 and 67 and 96. Men who slept for fewer than five hours were roughly four times more likely to be obese than those who slept for seven to eight hours per night. More than twice as many women who slept less than five hours per night were fat as their well-rested peers2.
Hormones are critical in regulating appetite and energy expenditure. Sleep disruption can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting hunger hormones and overall calorie balance, and might affect the overall body weight.
The researchers found that sleep restriction decreased leptin levels (a hormone that suppresses appetite) and increased ghrelin levels (a hormone that stimulates appetite). This hormonal imbalance increases hunger and thirst, potentially contributing to weight gain3. By maintaining proper sleep duration and quality, you can support hormonal balance and optimize calorie burn during sleep.
Tips On How To Burn More Calories When You Sleep
Now that you understand the importance of getting enough sleep to burn more calories, here are a few tips to improve your sleep quality to help you lose weight.
1. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Try establishing a bedtime routine. Create a calming pre-sleep routine that signals your body that it’s time to wind down. This may include reading a book, practicing gentle stretching, or taking a warm bath which gives your body temperature a relaxing feel.
You should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Prioritize getting enough deep sleep to support optimal metabolic function and overall well-being. Consistently achieving the recommended sleep duration can enhance the body’s calorie-burning potential during rest.
2. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Optimize your room temperature. Keep your bedroom relaxed and comfortable; a slightly cooler room can promote better sleep. The ideal temperature for most people is around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 20 degrees Celsius).
Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out any light, and consider using earplugs or white noise machines to reduce disruptive sounds that might interfere with your sleep. Curtains that block out lights have a significant impact on falling asleep.
You can also choose a comfortable mattress and pillow. Invest in supportive mattresses and pillows that suit your sleep preferences and promote proper spinal alignment for a more restful sleep.
3. Engage in Regular Exercise
Incorporate regular exercise into your routine to improve sleep quality. Physical activity can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall sleep patterns.
Include strength training exercises in your workout regimen. Building lean muscle mass can raise your resting metabolic rate, leading to more calories burned even during sleep. Spend 20–30 minutes a day exercising out. However, avoid working out right before bedtime.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels. Adequate hydration supports metabolic processes and can help regulate appetite. However, reduce your fluid intake in the hours leading up to rest. This can help prevent frequent trips to the bathroom that may disrupt your sleep.
5. Consume a Balanced Diet
Be mindful of your dietary choices, as they can affect sleep quality. Avoid heavy, spicy, high-fat meals close to bedtime, as they may lead to indigestion and sleep disturbances.
Incorporate sleep-supportive foods into your diet, such as tryptophan-rich foods (e.g., turkey, milk) and complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains), which can promote relaxation and support stable blood sugar levels.
6. Manage Stress and Mental Well-being
Practice stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, to ease your mind and promote better sleep quality. Prioritize self-care activities that help you unwind and relax, such as reading, listening to calming music, or spending time in nature.
In conclusion, achieving a healthy weight goes beyond just exercise and diet; it involves recognizing the significance of quality sleep in the equation. By maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and engaging in regular exercise, you can optimize the number of calories burned while you sleep. Combine these practices with a balanced and healthy diet that promotes better sleep patterns and supports a lower calorie intake.
Understanding the connection between sleep and metabolism helps you appreciate that even during rest, your body is active in fat-burning. However, it’s essential to be mindful of calorie intake and avoid excessive consumption of calories, especially before bedtime. By managing stress and incorporating relaxation techniques into your routines, you can enhance your sleep cycles and improve sleep quality, further contributing to weight management.
Remember, a healthy lifestyle involves maintaining an equilibrium between calorie intake and expenditure. While you don’t burn as many calories during sleep as during exercise, getting enough rest plays a vital role in overall health and weight management. By taking care of your sleep, diet, and exercise habits, you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight while reaping the benefits of better fat-burning and a more balanced metabolism, setting the stage for improved being.
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3 Mosavat M, Mirsanjari M, Arabiat D, Smyth A, Whitehead L. The Role of Sleep Curtailment on Leptin Levels in Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus. Obes Facts. 2021;14(2):214-221. doi: 10.1159/000514095. Epub 2021 Mar 23. PMID: 33756469; PMCID: PMC8138234.
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