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Can you Burn Calories in your Sleep?

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Can you Burn Calories in your Sleep?

What is the Sleep Metabolic Rate?

Metabolism or metabolic rate is how our body works to provide the required amount of energy for the simplest tasks or functions to the more complex ones - from heavy workouts to sleeping. Food consumed by an individual or organism is broken down to form energy molecules or calories used by organs to provide and maintain a specific vital function. It is a process that continues throughout one’s life and is life-sustaining. The number of calories or energy used up while one is sleeping is known as the Sleeping Metabolic Rate (SMR). The SMR is an essential factor for the metabolic health of an individual. Let’s discuss how SMR is different from your resting metabolic rate and how one burns more calories while sleeping!

How does Sleep Metabolic Rate differ from Resting Metabolic Rate?

Resting metabolic rate is the number of calories required to maintain normal physiological functions in the body at rest. For example, when sitting or lying down, eating, reading a book, etc. Sleep metabolic rate is the number of calories consumed to maintain body functions while sleeping like breathing, heart and lung function, food digestion, and restoration of lost energy.

Factors determining the SMR

  • Age of an individual: Infants and children have the highest sleep metabolic rate compared to adults. Sleep metabolic rate reduces with age and is less in elderly individuals.
  • Physical activity: A physically active lifestyle has been associated with a higher sleep metabolic rate with fat being used up as calories while sleeping than lean muscle mass.
  • Body temperature: The core body temperature of an individual also determines how many calories are required to maintain normal physiological functions. A lower body temperature contributes to higher calorie consumption, raising the sleeping metabolic rate.
  • Phases of sleep: A higher sleep metabolic rate is seen during rapid eye movement sleep than in non-rapid eye movement sleep.
  • Presence of comorbidities: Diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and obstructive sleep apnea is potential contributors to an altered sleep metabolic rate.

Five effective ways to burn calories while you sleep

Eating the right way

Food is converted into energy or calories by our body for use in all bodily activities, including food digestion, breathing, and sleeping. The type and amount of food consumed determine how well the body can utilise the energy produced. Eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fibre will help the body generate the right amount of calories. If one skips a meal or consumes more than is required before bedtime, the body starts producing a hormone called cortisol, which signals the body to utilise lean muscle mass as energy rather than the stored fat.

This reduces the metabolic rate while sleeping. A reduced metabolic rate will cause calories to be used up at a slower rate or accumulate as fat. But how does one know what is to be eaten and in what quantities? The CGM technology is your answer. This science-driven technology chalks out a customised diet plan for you based on your eating habits and type of diet. It helps us understand our body’s needs in the right way. Personalised coaching helps one to overcome diet-related issues in the long run.

Exercise your way to a Fruitful sleep

Researchers have found that exercise of any form keeps our muscle mass at an optimal level. A good amount of lean muscle mass helps our body utilise calories in the right way and improves sleeping metabolic rate. Fat molecules are broken down by the body after food consumption and are used as calories rather than lean muscle mass. 

Keep the Clutter away

A good sleep metabolic rate is dependent on a sound sleep pattern. Quality sleep is crucial for a clear mind and tension-free state before sleep. A calm mind works wonders in our body whereby all organs work in harmony and have enough time to restore all lost energy during the day. The sleep metabolic rate is higher in the rapid eye movement sleep phase during the night than in the non-rapid eye movement phase (deep sleep).

Avoid Skipping a Good Night's Sleep

It has been found that skipping a night’s sleep leads to fluctuations in hormonal levels and a disturbed circadian rhythm. Homeostasis cannot be maintained when there is no rest. Cortisol secreted in response to a disturbed circadian rhythm causes lean muscle mass to be used as calories and fat lies unused. This leads to obesity. It is vital to have proper sleep every night.

Setting up a Healthy Sleep-Wake Cycle

Keeping track of one’s sleep-wake cycle and going to bed at the same time every day helps one develop a healthy sleep pattern. Sleeping for a minimum of 6 hours is essential to restore lost energy. 

Bottomline

It depends on the age of an individual, diet, presence of comorbidities, race and ethnicity, and the phase of the sleep cycle. The most effective ways to improve the amount of healthy calorie usage during sleep are to eat the right way, exercise regularly, avoid skipping night sleep, develop a proper sleep-wake cycle, and keep the mind clear of mindless clutter.

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