It’s easy to research diets and find one that fits your needs. But while diet and exercise are important, letting your body rest plays a crucial role in your health — and weight. Here are some surprising ways sleep can actually help you lose weight.
The amount of sleep you get determines how many calories you burn throughout the day
- Experts suggest seven to nine hours of sleep for optimal health.
It’s important to get the proper amount of shuteye. Experts suggest somewhere between seven and nine hours is the ideal amount of time for your body to operate its best the following day.
The right amount of sleep has a positive effect on weight loss. But the reason you shouldn’t get too much sleep actually has nothing to do with weight. Too much sleep increases your risk of developing diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. So try not to get more than nine hours each night.
Don’t eat before bed
- Eating before you sleep confuses your metabolism.
Eating right before bed requires your metabolism to go to work while you sleep. And when this happens, it not only can disturb your sleep cycle but also prevent your metabolism from working its best. This means any food that normally would be digested gets stored as fat, which can promote weight gain. You’re better off eating smaller meals at dinner and nothing before bed.
But if you need a midnight snack, make it something with protein
- The protein helps to build muscle while you sleep.
Several studies have shown if you want to build muscle, eating protein before bed can help. That’s because while we sleep, our body repairs itself. And that includes repairing and building muscle. If you give your body a boost of protein before bed, it can aid in muscle growth and help you achieve the results you’re looking for. Plus, some studies have shown it’s even more beneficial than eating protein right after a workout.
Ignore your electronics
- Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed.
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the body, controls your sleep cycle. Studies have suggested melatonin can actually help regulate weight and prevent weight gain. But when you use electronics, the blue light they emit disturbs your sleep cycle and alters the amount of melatonin your body produces. The best way to avoid this is to turn electronics off at least one hour before bedtime.
Never sleep with a night light
- Melatonin aids in the production of calorie-burning fat.
Regular lighting affects melatonin production the same way blue light from electronics does. When you sleep in complete darkness, your body produces more melatonin. And melatonin has been found to aid in the production of calorie-burning fat, known as brown fat. Brown fat produces heat from fatty acids, which can promote weight loss. Thus, when your melatonin levels are at their highest, so is your ability to lose weight.
Lower your bedroom temperature
- A colder body burns more calories.
According to a study in the journal Diabetes, people who sleep in colder temperatures lose more weight than people who don’t. Those who slept in rooms colder than 66.2 degrees produced more of the calorie-burning brown fat. So if your body isn’t cold, it won’t burn as many calories. And you won’t lose as much weight.
Stop drinking alcohol at least 3 hours before bed
- Your body has to work to metabolize alcohol while you sleep if you spend the night drinking.
Have you ever wondered why you never get a good night’s sleep after a long night of drinking? That’s because you work to metabolize the alcohol while you sleep, which keeps the body awake. This means you get less REM sleep, which is the deep sleep you need to feel rejuvenated. It’s perfectly fine to have a glass of wine with dinner. But having a nightcap right before bed will prevent you from getting a full night’s sleep, which can affect how your body burns calories the following day.
Avoid working out before bed
- Working out wakes up the body.
Even if you’ve been working all day and want to get a sweat session in at 8 p.m., don’t. Working out within four hours of going to bed means you’ll likely be pretty restless during the night. Working out wakes up your body, which is why it’s best to do it in the morning. At night, an awake body means tossing and turning all night, which won’t help you reach those high melatonin levels or help you burn more calories the next day.