You may doubt the authenticity of burning fat with sleep. That’s expected. Truth is, aside from stress and other possible mental reasons, we gain body fat because we consume fatty foods. We can only consume these foods because we’re awake, and sleeping – healthy sleep – means you don’t get unnecessary cravings.
So, keep an open mind, will you?
The body burns calories naturally by performing involuntary actions like breathing and pumping blood. This means that as long as you’re not giving it another job to do while you sleep, it’ll be burning calories to sustain you.
How do you make the best of this easy opportunity?
1. Embrace the cold and the dark
Here’s what happens when you sleep in a colder and darker room than most people.
The cold makes your body burn fat to generate heat because warm is cozier and preferred. This doesn’t work if you’re already in a room with a fairly warm temperature.
In total darkness, your body releases a hormone, melatonin. It helps regulate sleep, body temperature, stress levels, and blood pressure. It also helps produce brown fat, which is essential in breaking down calories, especially in the belly.
So, if you want to fully utilize your body’s natural ability to shed fat while you sleep, take your time to create the perfect environment for it. Keep your gadgets and electronics and bedside lamps off. Use light-blocking curtains if you can.
It’ll be worth it. Here’s a more in-depth and science-backed article detailing why you should sleep in the dark.
2. Eat little at night and more in the day
You’ll agree that there’s always this urge to eat so much before going to bed. It’s tempting because usually, you’re tired from the day’s activities, and stress-eating seems like an appropriate response.
Resist the urge to eat late at night. Instead, make a conscious effort to eat less at night, even when you’re eating healthy. Let your day be the time to fill up on as many carbs as you want. This way, your body would automatically metabolize fat while you sleep rather than try to digest the heavy meal you recently consumed.
Another option is to eat little but frequently throughout the day. This keeps your body on a constant fat metabolizing cycle that continues when you fall asleep. You could also set a timetable for your meals, foods to eat, and at what time. Routine has a way of making the body perform certain tasks on autopilot.
3. Don’t indulge in wine or other sugary snacks
It’s normal to want to ‘relax’ by sipping wine on the couch or munching on any of your favorite snacks. The effect of this is similar to eating heavily at night; you give your body something to digest instead of letting it use already existing fat to generate energy.
Wine is very rich in sugar and is capable of disrupting your night’s rest. So, if you must, take that glass of wine while you have dinner, which should be an hour or more before you retire for the day.
4. Take protein shakes
Proteins stabilize blood sugar levels and speed up metabolism. It is also thermogenic and helps manage cravings for processed foods full of empty calories.
Protein shakes are one of the most common foods that burn fat while sleeping. They build muscles, squelch hunger, and prevent bloating. Casein and tryptophan are amino acids that are good for boosting metabolism and regulating sleep. When you’re out shopping, keep these two components in mind.
5. Stretch, exercise, and build some muscles
Losing body fat has been associated with strenuous exercises and strict dieting, which can be unfulfilling for most people. Exercise and dieting work, but they don’t have to be frustrating.
If you actually enjoy going to the gym, try to focus your routine on strength-building activities more than cardio. These are important because it takes your body time to recover from the energy loss, so it tends to break down fat to produce that energy. This metabolic activity takes almost the entire day, including sleep time, till you’re ready for the next routine.
If you don’t go to the gym, you should consider some yoga poses that stretch the back and legs. Or some easy body exercises like squats before bed. These calm your nervous system, ensure healthy sleep, and encourage fat metabolism.
6. Spice things up
Yeah. Spice up your food with any kind of pepper that you’re comfortable consuming. Peppers have a compound called capsaicin, which has a thermogenic effect on your body.
Remember, protein shakes also have this effect. They stimulate basal metabolism to release heat and are capable of reducing appetite.
That means spicy meals will contribute to burning fat and give you a warm and cozy night’s rest.
Pretty obvious, right?
Most people still ignore it. You can’t burn fat while sleeping if you’re not sleeping. Remember that sleep has cycles, the deepest of which is the REM, where you actually sleep. It takes time to get to this stage of sleep, and you won’t if you’re only giving yourself 3-4 hours in the whole 24 hours.
Disruptive sleep patterns cause stress, leading to depression or stress-eating and eventual weight gain. There are many other negative health effects of late-night sleeping. Therefore, you should make it your business to optimize your sleeping times and patterns to allow normal body immune systems and hormonal activities.
It is not impossible to lose weight while sleeping. The rule is to be deliberate about the things you do every day.
Your daily habits are most likely contributing to the increase in body or belly fat that you’re noticing. It’s time to pick up some new habits, one step at a time. You could start with the light bedtime stretches. Use a visual reminder like a calendar or a to-do list to ensure that you don’t miss a day of that. You can also find a way to control the lighting in your bedroom.
Whatever you choose to start with, be faithful. Give it time. And trust your body to do the rest of the job.
Halimat Chisom is a biotechnologist and a freelance writer and editor. She enjoys writing on topics related to health, leadership, and career development. She is fascinated by the potential of tech in health advancement, especially in Africa and therefore, actively exploring bioinformatics in healthcare. You can find her on LinkedIn.