We all know that getting an adequate amount of sleep is better for you. I feel as if that’s fairly common knowledge by now. (Thanks, Internet!)
A more surprising fact though is that getting more sleep is a large contributor to burning fat. That’s right, you can literally burn fat while you sleep! It’s like an infomercial gone right. So how does it work?
Let’s start off with a scientific study that was done to give you some context.
This study compared two groups of overweight non-smokers on calorie restricted diets for 2 weeks. One group was able to sleep 8 and a half hours per night, while the other were only allowed to log a mere, yet average nowadays, 5 and a half hours per night. Both of these groups were given roughly 1,450 calories per day.
Let’s fast forward 2 weeks. The people who got the higher amount of sleep lost more fat than the group who slept less. Over half of the weight loss during the 8 and a half hour sleep session was fat while only one a quarter of the weight loss was fat during the 5 and a half hour sleep session. These people literally burned fat in their sleep. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Even more surprising, the people who slept less lost more muscle. 60% more to be exact. That’s a pretty staggering number to think about. Those mere 3 hours of lost sleep caused a shift in metabolism that made the body want to preserve fat at the expense of muscle.
But wait, there’s more! Sorry, I had to continue with the infomercial theme. It was just too easy.
When the researchers compared the blood levels for appetite-regulating hormones in the two groups they found those who slept less had produced more of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin. Translation, they woke up hungrier!
Common sense would assume that our bodies burn more calories when we are awake longer, but that’s not really true. The metabolic rate is down-regulated with less sleep. In other words, when you sleep less your body starts to burn calories at a slower rate to preserve energy. In this study, people burned close to 400 more calories by just sleeping 3 more hours! That’s close to 2,800 more calories burned in just one week.
If you want to read the study for yourself you can find it here.
So to sum it up for those of you skimming. If you want to burn fat, wake up less hungry, and preserve muscle mass, sleep more. Based on this study, 8 and a half hours is a good number to start at.