Can You Burn Fat While Sleeping? Science Says “Yes.”

Darshak Rana

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep isn’t an inactive state, unlike popular beliefs.

Our basal metabolic rate is still active while we catch some shut-eye. It means our bodies constantly burn calories to function properly. It takes the nighttime advantage to do some repair and restoration work.

However, our modern lifestyle — late-night artificial light exposure and longer waking hours disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms, forcing it to store fat instead of burning them.

Since late-night shifts and fixed sleep hours are uncontrollable, science has found various ways to speed up the metabolic rate during sleep, helping our bodies burn fat on auto-mode.

Here are some science-backed suggestions to burn calories while you snooze.

1. Sleep in a cooler environment.

I don’t know about you, but I like to turn down the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting and sleep in a warm comforter.

It turns out it’s a “no-duh” way to burn calories and lose weight.

The research titled, “Cool temperature alters human fat and metabolism,” published in National Health Institute, says:

“Men who were exposed to cool environment overnight for a month had increased brown fat with high metabolic rate.”

Brown fat produces heat by breaking down blood sugar (glucose) and fat molecules, which aids in body temperature regulation. That’s also one of the reasons why we get more hungry in winters than in summers.

Experts also recommend sleeping naked to maximize these benefits. But it’s a personal choice!

2. Sleep in a pitch dark room.

Why do you feel more sleepy after sunset as compared to daytime?

It’s because when the sun goes down, the human body starts secreting melatonin that makes you feel drowsy so that it can regulate your circadian rhythms. However, sleeping in dim lights (streetlight penetrating through windows, night bulbs, etc.) suppresses the melatonin onset leading to weight gain.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone regulating night cycles; everyone knows that by now. But how does it affect weight gain?

Well, a study published in the Journal of Pineal Research shows:

“Melatonin plays a crucial role in regulating metabolic rate in our bodies, and increased melatonin levels expedites brown fat production, which in turn burns down the fat molecules.”

Melatonin gummies for sleep are also found to be effective (check with your doctor).

3. Binge on some extra protein before sleep.

Protein aids in maintaining body weight because it speeds up your metabolism. Plus, protein enables you to stay fuller for longer, preventing late-night snacking that isn’t good for your weight loss.

According to a study published in NCBI(National Center for Biotechnology Information), drinking a protein shake before bed can help increase your metabolism.

Researchers discovered that males who consumed 30 gms protein as a nighttime snack had a higher resting metabolic rate the next morning than men who ate nothing. Protein is more thermogenic than carbohydrates or fat, which means it burns more calories while being digested.

My favorites are vegan protein powders instead of whey because they cause bloating.

4. Refrain from consuming alcohol right before bed.

As much as alcohol looks tempting and a sleep-inducing tonic, it’s not.

According to the Sleep Foundation study, most calories are burned during REM sleep, which occurs after midnight. So, if you consume alcohol too close to bedtime, your body will prioritize metabolizing the alcohol, preventing you from spending as much time in the REM sleep state. That’s just one aspect of the issue.

Alcohol, which is essentially fermented sugars, makes the liver busy and prevents it from burning body fat. Also, when sugars break down, their by-products are only calories that make things much worse if your goal is weight loss.

So, the best practice is to consume alcohol three hours before bed so that its molecules break down before you enter the REM state.

5. Strength training is the key to amping up your metabolic rate.

Do you remember the basal metabolic rate I mentioned in the introduction?

There are a few things you can do to escalate it. Strength training is one of them. It leaves a big impact because muscle burns more calories than fat even when you’re just relaxing or sleeping.

Resistance training boosts RMR (resting metabolic rate), resulting in rapid fat loss that sustains for a longer time. A research study found that resistance training increases resting metabolic rate more than aerobic exercises.

But why only resistance training?

Because it makes the body work harder by challenging a larger group of joints, tissues, and muscles.

Repetition increases the effectiveness of strength training. i.e., burning fat. Repetition ensures progression; it strengthens your muscles by tearing them. When combined with a nutritious diet, it can help you lose even more weight while providing additional health benefits.

I suggest three to four sets, two or three times a week, for each muscle group.

So, just a few simple tweaks to your evening routine can reap serious fat loss successes.

Did I miss anything?

Which fat-burning method resonated with you the most.

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