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How Many Calories Do You Burn Sleeping

Last Updated on March 17, 2020 by Ashwini G

If there is anything more important than food, it’s sleep. Even though a lot of people tend to put sleep in the backburner owing to work and other commitments, it has a significant impact on the mind and body, both short and long term. Sleep and the lack of it determine the quality of overall health and various physical and cognitive functions. Around the world, sleep disorders are on the rise, and so are health issues like obesity. This has led sleep experts and scientists to link sleep and weight. Whether you were trying to gain or lose weight, you are quality and quantity of sleep will have a great influence on it.

Sleep disorders have a major impact on your ability to lose weight. Regardless of your diet, your sleep schedule, quality, and quantity can determine how fast you lose or gain weight. Most overweight or obese people have some kind of sleep issues, which makes it hard for them to maintain the proper shape. Being fat doesn’t always indicate the wrong diet. It can also mean insufficient sleep and hormonal imbalance.

When someone goes without sleep for a long time at a stretch, the brain starts to go wonky and doesn’t support hormone balance as well as it should. This is one of the most crucial factors behind unhealthy appetite and weight gain. Unfortunately, people think only diet and exercise are responsible for weight gain or loss. They never wonder if sleep also has something to do with it. Sleep has a lot to do with weight. If you’re doing everything else right but not getting sufficient sleep, you will have a hard time maintaining the right weight.

Does Sleep Burn Calories?

Sleep is usually considered a period of inactivity. When we are asleep, it’s like being dead, when we are unaware of everything around us. However, this is a big misconception. Sleep is far from a state of inactivity. Whether we are asleep or awake, our bodily organs never stop working. Just because we are unaware of everything in an asleep state doesn’t mean our brain also goes to sleep with us. The brain keeps working, as does every other organ in the body.

Like being awake, being asleep is just another state that our body goes into for rest and rejuvenation. It doesn’t mean that it’s the time for all bodily functions to stop. The brain and body work hard while we sleep to make sure we wake up feeling refreshed.

An interesting thought is whether or not we burn calories while we are asleep. The answer to this can be interpreted in many ways. First and foremost, our bodily organs never stop working, which means even when we are asleep, the body’s digestive system is working. It is digesting the food and using the nutrients to repair the tissues and cells in the body, helping us wake up feeling fresh and alert. So does that mean we burn calories while we are asleep? Yes, we do. Can you stop exercising and only sleep in order to lose weight? No, you cannot.

How Sleep Burns Calories?

It must be kept in mind that even though the body is working during sleep, the metabolism slows down greatly. This is because the person is at rest and doesn’t need a fast metabolism. The slower your metabolism, the slower your calorie burn. Therefore, even though sleep burns calories, it isn’t anything remarkable.

However, there is a connection between deep sleep and a higher calorie burn. If you are in a deep sleep, you burn a greater amount of calories than when you are in light sleep or simply napping. Deep sleep is something many people have trouble with, but it is also the most important phase of sleep. Also known as REM sleep, it is the deepest stage of sleep where all the crucial cognitive functioning takes place. This is the phase when we dream, and our brain cells recharge. The more REM sleep we get, the better our sleep quality and the fresher and more alert we feel when we wake up.

It isn’t surprising that REM sleep has a deep connection with weight gain or loss. When an individual doesn’t get enough REM sleep, they end up having a hormonal imbalance, and as a result, the appetite and weight go out of order. But it’s true that even when you sleep, you burn calories.

However, there is no set number as to how many calories are burned during sleep, according to sleep experts and scientists. It varies highly variable throughout the different sleep stages, and is also dependent on the activities when the person is awake, besides being influenced by genetics.

Having said that, there is a good baseline to determine how many calories you’ve burned. Basically, it comes down to a simple formula (yes, you have to do a bit of math here):

A simple formula to determine how many calories you burn during sleep. You first have to calculate the number of calories your body burns at rest. This is called the basal metabolic rate. The BMR of an individual depends on body mass, height, and age, but the average for a healthy adult is considered to be around 45 calories per hour.

The BMR of an individual during sleep is measured after eight hours of constant sleep, without eating anything and in temperature conditions that are neither too hot nor cold. This helps one truly figure out exactly how much energy is being consumed only to rest.

When a person is asleep, the body functions at 95 percent, it’s normal functioning when the person is awake. If your average caloric expenditure at rest is 45 calories per hour), the formula to calculate your caloric expenditure during sleep is as follows:

(Calories burned in an hour) x 0.95 or 95% x number of hours of sleep

So, the number of calories burned during sleep will be calculated as 45 x 0.95 x 8 (the hours of sleep can be more or less than 8 hours) = 342. If you remove the 95 percent, the calories burned when a person is awake is 45 x 8 = 360 calories.

What Happens During REM Sleep?

The Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep is fascinating because this is when the brain is alert and awake, but the body is still asleep. This is also when dreams occur, a phenomenon that scientists still haven’t found an explanation for. People who wake up after competing REM sleep, feel more refreshed than those who wake up before or in the middle of the stage.

In the stages past, the brain is asleep while the body heals and recharges. However, the final stage of sleep is reserved for the brain when it is awake and alert and preparing for the day. This is also the stage when body temperature and heartbeat slowly start to rise again after being low throughout sleep. REM sleep is crucial not only for cognitive functioning but also for hormonal balance. Because hormones are controlled by the brain, lack of REM sleep causes hormonal imbalance, affecting appetite and weight gain.

The hormones leptin and ghrelin are responsible for hunger and appetite. When these two hormones are in balance, it is easy for a person to have a healthy appetite and the right weight. But when you don’t get sufficient sleep, the hormones are imbalanced, resulting in unhealthy appetite and weight gain. The REM stage specifically is responsible for appetite and weight gain.

The body burns the maximum calories during REM sleep because this is when the brain is most active and requires the most oxygen to function. The lighter the sleep, the less oxygen the brain needs to function, and the slower the calorie burn. In the previous stages of sleep, calorie burn isn’t too great. But in the REM sleep stage, it is at the peak. The brain is sometimes more active during the REM stage than when it is awake, explaining the high metabolic activity.

Is Sleep Key To Weight Loss?

When you realize this fascinating fact that you do indeed burn calories when sleeping, you become curious to know how to burn the most calories during sleep. The best you can do is get proper sleep every night, between 7 and 8 hours. The average adult requires anywhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, but most people get far less than that. Some people get only five or six hours of sleep every night and function throughout the day by drinking coffee. Some people don’t even need coffee because they are used to getting only a few hours of sleep. However, in the long run, lack of sleep results in health issues like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

Remember that the deeper your REM sleep, the more calories you will burn. And to make sure you have REM sleep every night, you need to establish a proper sleep routine and follow sleep hygiene. Not many people have a sleep routine, at least as adults. Sleep routine is something associated with children, but adults need it even more because when we grow up, our lives become hectic and chaotic. We need to find discipline and routine to help our body and brain function normally.

When sleep is healthy, the bodily functions are also healthy, and the hormones remain in balance. Proper balancing of hormones is key to weight loss or gain, and this is deeply connected to sleep. The better you sleep, the better shape you will be in.

Sticking to a sleep routine is extremely important because of your body and your brain’s love routine. When you have a fixed sleep routine, you will find it much easier to fall asleep and also have REM sleep every night. Getting REM sleep is an indicator of quality sleep. If you do not have REM sleep, you will wake up feeling unrefreshed. Entering REM sleep is highly important, and is also when you burn the maximum calories during sleep.

Sleep hygiene is also important for proper sleep. Keep your sleep environment uncluttered at all times, and make your bedroom a cocoon for sleep. The more comfortable you feel during sleep, the better your sleep quality, and the higher the chances of burning calories. Reducing the consumption of alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bedtime, and avoiding rich, heavy meals before bed is also necessary for ensuring an undisturbed sleep.

How To Burn More Calories Sleeping?

Sticking to a sleep routine is just one of the ways to help your brain get more REM sleep and your body to burn more calories. You also have to remember that calorie burn depends on your body weight. If you don’t have much body weight, to begin with, your calorie burn will be significantly less than an obese person.

If you are truly considering to maximize the number of calories you burn. At the same time, you are asleep, sleep experts suggest turning the temperature down. That’s right; the temperature of your room should be cool, ideally between 16 to 20 degrees Celcius. It has been proven time and again that a cooler environment is most conducive to sleep, and also helps REM sleep the most. But now it’s also been found that sleeping in a cool room helps you burn more calories because the body keeps you warm by burning the calories. Instead of turning up the thermostat and sleeping under six layers of blankets, try sleeping in a cooler room for maximum nocturnal calorie burn.

Most importantly, you must focus on burning the maximum calories when you are awake because that is something more in your control. Your nocturnal calorie burn isn’t in your control, but you can control what you do during your waking hours to burn more calories. Getting proper sleep every night, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine consumption, and following a sleep routine is crucial for helping your body get the maximum calorie burn from the hours spent sleeping.

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