How to Lose Weight While Sleeping
You snooze, you lose…weight? It’s like I’m in your head and writing an article based upon your wildest dreams, isn’t it? Losing weight through warm, comfortable sleep?
No, you aren’t dreaming. This is real life. Read on for six (and a bit) tips on how to lose weight while sleeping!
Get enough sleep
Let’s start off with the most obvious and the most enjoyable – get more of the stuff! There are countless articles, studies and interviews that tell us time and time again that we should be getting around seven to nine hours sleep per night, yet how often can we really say that we manage it?
Non-stop lifestyles and a near constant need to always be ‘on’ mean that we’re giving less and less credence to the hours spent under the covers.
So the most effective starting point is to be sure that you’re making room for a healthy sleep schedule; the closer you hit to that recommended amount, the better your hormonal and appetite balance will be.
Do some temperature control
The next simple step is to regulate the heat in your sleeping environment. You might be thinking warmer is better; who can fail to fall into a long, undisturbed sleep if they’re cosy to begin with?
That might be true, but science points to colder room temperatures as being a key part of weight loss whilst sleeping.
It all comes down to the function of the brown fat in our bodies (different from white fat, which helps with liver processes and production of a hormone called adiponectin). Brown fat is known to become active when the body is cold, working to burn calories and raise/lower your internal temperature depending on what’s necessary.
According to Professor Dr. C. Ronald Khan, brown fat can burn between one hundred and two hundred extra calories on a cold day.
So, before you sleep, make sure your environment is cool (not freezing) and then jump beneath those sheets and let the brown fat do its nocturnal thing!
Sleep at the right times – a technical one!
It’s simple to think an early night will do wonders for your energy levels the next day (not to mention a perfect excuse to spend more time in bed), but some research suggests that the actual time we go to sleep is a much more complex issue than ‘earlier is better’.
Dr Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, points out that the quality of our sleep is dependent upon REM cycles (rapid eye movement). REM cycles work on a, roughly speaking, 90 minute timescale – where the mind sifts from light sleep into deeper more restorative slumber, then comes back to the surface and repeats all throughout the night.
What Dr Walker also says, is that these REM shifts happen at particular times of the night, regardless of what time you hit the sack and that lighter, less restorative sleep tends to happen more frequently as we approach the morning.
Thus, if you head to bed in the small hours, past midnight, you could already be in the lighter stages, missing out on the deep sleep window.
These deep periods are really important for hormone production (such as the human growth hormone) which can heavily influence your appetite, and weight regulation.
Swap coffee for green tea
Less caffeine seems like an obvious one for getting a good night’s sleep, but what should you replace those late afternoon lattes with? Green tea is the answer.
Although green tea still has caffeine in it, it’s a much lesser amount than other brewed beverages, plus it comes with a host of benefits: linked with increased metabolism (thanks, EGCG!) and antioxidants, as well as containing flavonoids (which hold a huge number of benefits to the human body, discussed here)
Combined with a cooler room, your metabolism will be working overtime, whilst you snuggle into your pillow.
Go the minty route
If I asked you to imagine the smell of a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, right now, I bet your stomach would rumble with desire. Sorry about that.
But the principle is important – smells can work in the opposite way, too, and actually suppress the appetite. One such scent is mint, found by the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine to actually contribute to weight loss (yahoo.com).
By finding ways to encourage the smell of mint before bed, you could help to swat away those late night food urges (burning a scented candle, plugging in an air freshener or even spritzing some peppermint essential oil around your bedroom, for example).
Dairy can be your friend…
I get it. This one seems counterintuitive. Isn’t dairy fattening? In large amounts, yes, but moderated portions can help with the fat burning processes of the body due to high calcium levels in most dairy products.
Cheese, in particular, is often quoted as being a good example (despite the old wives’ tales about cheese before bed prompting nightmares) – cottage cheese contains acid tryptophan which has been known to improve sleep quality and can speed up the process of drifting off.
Not to mention a soothing, warm mug of milk before bed can be a hugely relaxing night cap to send you off to sleep.
A couple of honorable mentions…
Casein (a form of slow burning protein) can take nearly a full night’s sleep to digest, resulting in feeling full and well rested in the morning, rather than a rush to the kitchen to stave off starvation. Try some casein in a shake before bed, and test the results for yourself.
Eating small meals throughout the day, rather than a few large ones, keeps your natural metabolic rhythm going throughout the day and into the night; encouraging your body to break down fat whilst you sleep!
There are multitudes of ways in which you can utilize sleep to shed some unwanted weight – and the best part is, not one of them is an unpleasant process; they all let you spend luxury time in bed!