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Snooze To Lose (Weight, that Is)

If you’re trying to shed unwanted pounds, the dream of losing weight while you sleep can be enticing. But how much weight does the average person lose as they snooze? Is there anything you can do to speed up your weight loss during sleep? There’s more to this topic than you might think.

Your metabolism and losing weight

In the last All We Eat post, you learned about the basal metabolism, or your basal metabolic rate (BMR). That’s the number of calories your body needs to fuel its basic functions, which Mayo Clinic lists as “breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.” That’s about 70 percent of the calories your body uses each day.

Clearly, to lose weight, you have to either speed up your metabolism, burn more calories through exercise, or do both. You can’t exercise while you’re sleeping, but can you speed up your metabolism while sleeping? First, consider how many calories you burn while you sleep.

Burning calories while you sleep

Livestrong notes that the amount you weigh affects the number of calories you burn during sleep—the more you weigh, the more you burn per hour. If you weigh 125 pounds, you’ll burn around 38 calories per hour during sleep; if you weigh 155 pounds, you’ll burn 46 calories per hour; and if you weigh 185 pounds, that bumps your up further to burning 56 calories per hour.

Tip 1: Get good sleep

Interestingly, a Brazilian study quoted in Fitday found that you burn more calories while you sleep than while lying awake in bed. Your brain is super active and your body works to increase your internal temperature during the REM stages of sleep, which likely accounts for the extra energy burned. Besides the fact that you feel better when you get good sleep, it’s nice to know that if you want to lose weight, a good night’s rest is good for that, too.

Tip 2: Lower the temperature

The same Fitday article explains that when the temperature is lower, your body uses more energy to stay warm in what’s called the non-shivering thermogenesis effect. Simply turning off the heat or reducing the temperature on your thermostat before you go to bed in the colder months may give your body a slight boost in burning calories while you sleep.

Tip 3: Eat your main meal earlier in the day

One way to lose weight more easily is to avoid eating a big meal just before you go to bed. A recent study conducted in Spain that NPR mentions indicates that study participants who consumed 40 percent of their daily calories before 3pm rather than after tended to lose far more weight—almost 25 percent more than those who ate later in the day. These study participants got roughly similar amounts of sleep and physical activity.

Tip 4: Consume metabolism-boosting foods

What you eat or drink may also impact your weight loss, too. WebMD claims that some foods and beverages speed up your metabolism because they take more effort for your body to process. High-protein food, green tea, and spicy foods all speed up your metabolism. However, save the green tea for much earlier in the day, as it does contain caffeine—The Spruce says that a cup of green tea contains about one quarter of the amount of a cup of coffee and one half the amount of a cup of black tea.

Tip 5: Exercise a few hours before going to bed

This can be a catch-22 situation. Intense exercise just before bedtime can cause you to wake up. Yet when you get good sleep, you lose more weight than when you lie awake in bed. Livestrong suggests that doing a moderate-intensity cardio workout around two and a half hours before you go to bed can boost your metabolism while you sleep, but not interfere with your ability to sleep well.

Head to bed to shed those pounds

So it’s clear that you do actually burn a significant number of calories while you sleep. It also appears that by following a few good practices—get good sleep, turn down the thermostat, eat your main meal in the middle of the day, eat high-protein and spicy foods, and exercise moderately a few hours before bedtime—you might burn even more calories and lose a few more pounds than you would otherwise.

To follow one of those recommendations, try making the Cajun Chicken Lunch Salad with a Simple Dressing from allweeat.com. It packs a one-two punch for weight loss with both high-protein chicken and spice from cayenne pepper. And if you eat it as your main meal earlier in the day, you’ve just hit two of those recommendations.

Have any of these recommendations worked for you, or do you have other ideas for losing weight while you sleep? If so, please share in the comments below.

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