The other day I was reflecting on my get healthy goals and came across this blogpost I wrote a few years back. I was struck by the image and something I had recently read about the importance of sleep. The picture is an advertisement for slimgenics, and its tagline reads, “You’ll get a lot more compliments for working out that you will for SLEEPING IN.”
Funnily enough, I recently learned that sleeping in can actually help you burn more calories. Yes. That’s right. Sleeping burns calories. Wait a minute… how exactly?
While you’re dreaming, your body and brain are hard at work
First of all, everything the body does burns calories. Your body requires energy (i.e. calories) just to keep all of its systems functioning, from pumping blood to digesting food. The rate of converting calories into energy varies according to your activity. While it’s true that you require more energy when active, and thus burn more calories, it’s false to assume that you’re not burning calories during your “inactive” hours of sleeping.
In fact your body and your brain are anything but inactive while you’re sleeping. They’re actually busy repairing cells, storing memories, working through problems, flushing out toxins from the brain, and regulating both glucose levels and hormones (including hunger hormones!). So not only will getting more zzzz’s, improve your appearance, help your alertness and concentration, and reduce stress, it also facilitates overall improved appetite control, raises metabolism, and helps you lose fat. How many wins is that?
The key to achieving all of these benefits is allowing your body to go through the complete sleep cycle. That means five 90-minute stages of non-REM sleep and REM sleep, with the longer REM periods occurring in the morning hours. With our brain activity level set to “high” during REM sleep, this is when the greatest calorie burn takes place. So if you’re interrupting this final phase by dragging yourself out of bed after only six hours of sleep, you could be missing that crucial bit of shut eye that makes all the difference to your metabolism.
How to up your overnight calorie burn
We all have our excuses for not getting the recommended eight hours, right? I tend to stay up too late catching up on social media and then before I know it, the alarm is going off. Also, getting an uninterrupted night of sleep still isn’t a guarantee. I’m sure a lot of you newish mamas out there know what I mean! But there are a few things you can do to help increase the amount and quality of sleep that you’re getting.
Experts advise not eating late at night and to avoid alcohol in the hours before bedtime. Of course, it helps if you’re not tossing and turning all night. A lot of people swear that a memory foam mattress can make a huge difference, but up until recently they have been quite pricey. Thankfully, with more competition entering the market, even a high quality mattress such as that from Eve Sleep needn’t break the bank. That’s that excuse gone.
Lastly, a cool room temperature overnight can not only help you fall asleep more easily but it will also add to your calorie burn. Try turning the thermostat to between 60 and 67 degrees and see if you notice an improvement in your sleep. If nothing else, the utility bills will be just a little bit lower, and with winter coming up… who couldn’t use that?
While it would be amazing just to sleep my way to a slimmer, healthier me, there’s no denying that exercise is also an essential component of boosting metabolism. Luckily for us, someone has actually developed a workout that will complement our improved sleep routine so that we see calorie-burning benefits on both ends.
So here’s the revised plan: eat well, spend more time in dreamland, and get moving. I look forward to getting the compliments for sleeping in AND working out. Who’s with me?