Losing weight is a difficult process, one that many people give up on every year. Dieting, exercising, and increasing daily activity are all a chore, wouldn’t it be great if you could lose weight overnight while you sleep? While nothing is ever as easy as that, you might be surprised at how much influence a good night’s sleep can have on your fat loss goals.
Immediately a lot of you will have already got excited at the idea that sleeping more can lead to losing weight, whilst an even larger group of readers have already decided that this article is talking rubbish. Well, hopefully, the rest of the article will convince you that sleep can improve fat loss, but only when it is combined with exercise, effective diet plans, and supplementation.
Lose Weight Overnight While You Sleep Study? Dream on
There is actually a lot of science backing up this belief, studies have shown that during REM sleep (¹) your metabolic rate is actually higher than when awake. This doesn’t mean that during the eight hours of sleep that you get every minute of sleep is spent with a higher metabolism.
At first, your metabolism does slow down, but as you drift into a deeper sleep your metabolism begins to rise. Once you’re in REM your metabolism will now be at its highest, before slowly falling back down again before you wake.
Obviously increasing REM sleep would be a way to increase your metabolism, so not only is improving sleep duration important but so is sleep quality. You can do this by making sure that your bed is comfortable enough, by avoiding electronics for 30 minutes before sleep, turning off all lights, and following the same sleeping pattern with best Sleeping positions ( Kevin Wade talks about side, stomach and back sleeping positions and what is the best position to get rest and prevent pain):
Going to bed at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning is the best thing you can do if you want a good night’s sleep, although this is not always possible, at least try it if you can. And
Can sleeping more can improve performance?
There have been many studies done on team sports such as basketball or hockey where the players have been instructed to sleep between 8 and 10 hours. The studies showed that the players who managed to hit 10 hours sleep per night performed better the next day. Being well-rested is one of the best ways to improve performance and the more active you are the more sleep you need.
Football clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United actually have their players take naps during the middle of the day to improve their performance. They even have specially designed rooms that help players sleep better.
So how does this help you? Well for someone working a 9-5 job, getting ten hours sleep a night is unrealistic. But you’re not training to be a professional athlete, so you probably don’t need that much anyway! However, that doesn’t mean that you can survive off 5 or 6 hours per night and still expect to get the most out of your gym session.
Try and aim for 7 to 8 hours sleep each night and your results in the gym should improve. You’ll also have more energy, require less caffeine (some coffees can contain hundreds of calories), and you’ll actually eat fewer calories.
Yes, that’s true, studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to us searching out more calorie-dense foods. In other words, when you’re walking to work after only 5 hours sleep you’re less likely to go for the celery then you are the doughnut!
What about Testosterone?
Sleep deprivation has been shown to lower testosterone and growth hormone levels, meaning that a good night’s sleep can lead to increased testosterone compared to a bad night’s sleep. This is because testosterone is maximally released during REM sleep. Having low testosterone can lead to muscle loss, weight gain, depression, and increased risk of heart disease.
Increasing your testosterone can, therefore, lower your chances of depression and heart disease, can increase muscle gain, and help lower body fat. All you have to do is sleep better and for longer.
Can sleep help with recovery from exercise?
There has been a lot of evidence to support the belief that sleep can help increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) after a workout. MPS is the process where dietary protein is used to repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibers – leaving them stronger and larger than before. This leads to the strength and hypertrophy gains that everyone is looking for.
More sleep means better recovery from exercise, which means bigger and stronger muscles. There have also been studies that have shown that increasing protein intake just before bed (through whey or casein protein shakes) can lead to even more muscle protein synthesis (²).
So if you want to get stronger or have bigger muscles not only should you take protein before bed, you should also get to bed earlier and wake up later.
On its own sleeping more might not have an effect on weight loss, and you probably won’t lose weight overnight while you sleeping unless you combine it with exercise and nutrition. But a lack of sleep will cause poor gym results, depression, lowered testosterone, muscle loss and weight gain. So get your 8-10 hours and don’t try and live on 5 or 6 hours, you might be able to survive on it but it certainly wouldn’t be optimal.
Also, try and schedule a whey or casein protein shake before bedtime, this is easy to follow a regimen that could seriously upgrade your results after a training session. If you’re an athlete then this information is vital to you, but if you’re just a regular guy or girl then you could still benefit from the many benefits that proper sleep can provide.
- Improved metabolic rate during sleep
- Improved performance in the gym after sleeping more
- Increased testosterone and growth hormone (explain benefits)
- Increased rate of muscle protein synthesis (particularly with casein protein before bed)