The body undergoes countless things when we’re asleep. Some like these are strange. Others are normal. One of the most common activities to happen during sleep is calorie burnout.
The fact that you are resting does not mean that the body stops burning calories. It still consumes lots of energy. Much energy is utilized during REM sleep. In this phase, the brain is highly active meaning you burn much glucose, the main source of fuel for the body.
Blood pressure and heart rate tend to increase during REM sleep leading to the burning of more calories.
How Many Calories Do We Burn While Sleeping?
According to this study, our body’s metabolism reduces by around 15% when we’re asleep. The number of calories burned during sleeping is variable through different sleep stages. It gets to a minimum in the morning within a standard circadian pattern.
To get a rough estimate of calories burned when sleeping, you’ll have to calculate your hourly BMR and multiply it by your sleep hours and then by 0.85.
To arrive at your BMR, use this BMR Calculator.
To calculate calories burned when sleeping, use the following formula:
Formula = (BMR per 24 hours × Hours slept × .85)
Of great importance to note is that calculating BMR isn’t straightforward as different factors are involved. However, we can estimate using the popular Harris-Benedict equation. It considers your ages, weight, height, and sex.
Note: We’re basing our formula on the study we’ve highlighted earlier in this section.
This study holds a different opinion. It suggests that our bodies function at 95 percent of rest during sleep. This means that based on this study, we can come up with the following formula.
Formula = (BMR per 24 hours × Hours slept × .95)
One thing you’ll notice when calculating calories burned while sleeping is that the amount burned rises with body weight and reduces with age. People with big bodies burn more calories for their bodies to function and vice-versa.
Here are some averages of calories burnt for different individuals sleeping 8 hours every night and using the latter formula:
- 30-years – 110lb female – 418 calories
- 30-years – 110lb male – 452 calories
- 40-years – 130lb female – 431 calories
- 40-years – 200lb male – 607 calories
Certain factors affect your BMR. The number of calories burned during sleep is determined by an array of factors. Some of them are:
- Muscle mass
- Physical activities
Muscle mass is simply the amount of muscle tissue in the body. Of great importance to note is the fact that your muscles need more energy to function compared to fat. Therefore, the more muscle your body has, the more energy you’ll need to function optimally. As you shall later learn in this article, strength or resistance training is the most efficient type of exercise for not only the building but also maintaining your muscle mass.
This study further cements the claims and opines that if you want to increase your metabolism, you should increase your muscle mass.
Genetics, according to this study, affects your metabolism. It might sound weird, but do you know that some families boast faster BMR compared to others? Genetic disorders can cause a slow rate of metabolism.
This study opines that as we age, our body’s metabolism tends to slow down generally. So what informs this development? The main reason for this is due to the changes in muscle tissue. Changes in neurological and hormonal processes also inform this development.
As children grow, they undergo phases of drastic growth with higher levels of metabolism.
Environmental factors like increases in cold or heat can make the body to work double or triple as it seeks to maintain its normal temperature. This increases your BMR. This research paper looked at how environmental regulation affected metabolism and made similar conclusions.
When it comes to gender, men have a faster metabolism rate compared to women in this study opines. Hormonal fluctuations, which are more common in women coupled with reproductive cycles are some of the differences in men and women that can inform a higher metabolic rate in the former compared to the latter.
According to this study that took place at NIH’s Clinical Research Unit, your diet has a huge effect on your metabolism. Another study found out that in addition to the meals we eat, the frequency of the meals also has an impact on the number of calories our body burns.
Medications like steroids and antidepressants can increase your body weight regardless of what you consume. Nicotine and caffeine can also increase your metabolic rate. It is important to note that some drugs are recommended by doctors to control their metabolism. In other words, there is the appropriate use of drugs to regulate metabolism which is good practice.
However, some drug abuse for metabolic processes is what is discouraged.
Workouts or physical exercises not only increase your muscle mass, but they also power the body’s metabolic engine. This means that you will burn kilojoules faster, even when you’re asleep.
What Determines The Amount Of Calories Burnt As We Sleep?
The amount of calories you shed while sleeping depends on an array of factors, chief among them your BMR. The basal metabolic rate is the main determinant of the energy amounts the body requires to perform optimally. The body’s basic functions according to this paper include:
- Keeping the organs running
- Blood circulation
- Breathing or respiration
- Digestion and excretion
Your weight plays a big role in determining your BMR. The more pounds one carries the more energy the body needs.
At night, the body gets into repair mode as it seeks to repair any cell damage that happened during the day. For example, if workouts characterize your day, the muscles will not only recuperate but also restore themselves at night. This process needs energy.
The process of digestion of food also utilizes energy as the body breaks down what you’ve eaten into usable fuel for the next day.
Too much vs. too less sleep
5 Tips To Burn More Calories As You Sleep
Some people wish they can burn more calories or at a faster rate as they sleep. Well, is it possible? Is there anything one can do to achieve this goal?
Burning more calories as you sleep is efficient at helping you maintain appropriate weight levels. The golden rule is to make sure that you increase your metabolism during the day. When you do that, when your body is sleeping, it’ll shed calories at a quicker rate.
Here are some tips to help your body shed more calories as you sleep:
1. Exercise Frequently
By exercising often, you will shed more calories. In addition to that, you will maintain high metabolism in both day and night. It is prudent to include resistance and cardiovascular workouts in your routine.
The latter are magical in helping you burn calories as you work out while the former are magical in ensuring you shed more calories during night and day.
2. Avoid Going to Bed Hungry
Going to bed hungry does more harm than you could ever think. Failure to eat anything makes the body to go into starvation mode. It does this by reducing your metabolism thus conserving calories.
Although grabbing a tiny portion of snacks while hungry is fine, you need to make sure that your choices are healthy. High-fat snacks aren’t the best choices. Taking a piece of high-fiber cereal that contains skim milk won’t add any extra calories.
The most important thing to do if you want to burn calories is to strictly eat something only when hungry. If you are not starving, you need to avoid taking a bedtime snack.
3. Take Small Frequent Meals
Eating tiny, yet regular meals throughout the day is another effective way to raise your metabolism and shed more calories as you sleep. Do you know that our bodies tend to burn calories even while digesting food? Yes, it happens!
Metabolism slows down whenever you are hungry. By consuming tiny meals after a couple of hours, you will be able to not only raise your metabolism but also maintain a healthy appetite. The rule of thumb is to grab a snack or small mean every 3 – 4 hours.
Always remember to keep the meals or snacks in small portions. Do not overdo it. Only take meals when starving.
It is highly prudent that you maintain your fat intake at not more than 30 percent of total calories. This is according to WHO. Avoid taking meals or snacks with saturated fat or sugar. Instead, settle for fiver-rich foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
4. Be Lean (Decrease Fat and Increase Muscle)
Even when you are resting, muscles tend to burn more calories compared to fat. If you are one of the folks with a higher content of lean body mass, chances are high that you will burn more calories even when asleep. One of the most effective and effortless ways to reduce your body fat and raise your lean muscle tissue is by performing resistance training workouts a couple of days every week.
Some great examples of resistance exercises include:
- Lateral shoulder raises
- Triceps extensions
- Bicep curls
You can also try Pilates exercises which are equally effective for resistance training, raising your metabolism and keeping the body toned.
5. Avoid Taking Alcohol Before Bedtime
Taking several wine glasses with dinner is fine. While this is the case, you should limit your alcohol intake to no less than three hours before heading to bed as it alters the circadian rhythm. Giving yourself ample time after taking alcohol gives the body ample time to metabolize.
Taking alcohol too close to bed will keep you out from deeper sleep stages which can be problematic. As we already explained earlier in this article, it is during the REM sleep stage that the body burns a higher amount of calories.