How to lose weight while you sleep
Can losing weight really be as simple as getting a regular night’s sleep? It may seem too good to be true, but research shows there are ways to potentially burn calories as you bed down for the night.
Consider adopting these four healthy habits (plus stretching before bed) to lose weight while you sleep — such as increasing your sleeping time, eating smarter before bed and adjusting your environment.
More sleep = More fat lost
In a small study of 10 overweight adults (both men and women) who didn’t smoke, researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin put each subject on a moderately calorie-restricted diet, then had people sleep either eight-and-a-half hours a night or five-and-a-half hours for a two-week period.
The people who slept longer lost 55 percent more fat than those who slept less, and also experienced other benefits: They lost less fat-free, body mass — such as water and muscle — and were less hungry than those with the shorter sleeps. Not getting enough sleep can mean your body won’t work efficiently to drop weight even if you are eating less, the researchers concluded.
Pick protein for your bedtime snack
Do you crave a snack before bed? Choose a protein-packed snack such as cheese, a slice of turkey or a protein bar or drink, rather than the traditional milk and cookies.
In a Dutch study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, scientists found that among healthy men who exercised two hours before bed, those who ate protein just before falling asleep built more muscle overnight as they slept.
Lower the thermostat
Our bodies have different kinds of fat — white and brown. White is what makes bodies look larger, while brown keeps your metabolism moving and helps burn energy. To help your body develop more brown fat, consider reducing the temperature in the bedroom to 66 degrees at night.
Doing so helped five men in a research study build more brown fat while they slept, which in turn can help stimulate the metabolism and burn more calories while sleeping, according to research in the journal Diabetes and reported in the The New York Times.
Pull down the shades to maintain your weight
Sleeping in a space that’s pitch black is more likely to help you maintain weight loss, according to a large study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “The odds of obesity increased with increasing levels of [exposure to light at night], even after adjustment for potential confounders such as sleep duration, alcohol intake, physical activity and current smoking,” the researchers wrote.
Besides using room-darkening shades to avoid streetlights or other light pollution outside your window, turn out lights inside and unplug yourself from your laptop, tablet and/or smartphone. Any shining light in your room can disrupt your sleep and keep you awake longer —which is exactly what you don’t want to reduce your weight while you rest.
Written by Cheryl Alkon
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