Improper sleep habits can prevent losing weight. Fat metabolism is negatively affected and the feeling of satiety is a long time coming. Three rules will help you boost your fat-burning at night and lose weight while you sleep.
Slim while sleeping: Is that even possible?
Who doesn’t dream of losing weight while sleeping and waking up slim? It’s not quite that fast – but certain sleep rules actually help to promote weight loss. Slim while sleeping is therefore possible. However, being slim while sleeping does not mean that you lose weight without any action on your part. Because here, too, it is important to become active and break through your own habits.
How many hours of sleep is healthy?
The blanket 8-hour sleep recommendation per night has had its day. Today, sleep requirements are determined very individually for different age and activity groups. In 2015, for example, the U.S. National Sleep Foundation issued precise sleep recommendations for different age groups in the journal Sleep Health (1).
Newborns should sleep 14 – 17 hours, adolescents 8 – 10 hours, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should sleep 7 – 9 hours and seniors over 65 should sleep 7 – 8 hours. Around these recommendations, minima or maxima were defined. For example, the absolute minimum sleep for adults is 6 hours per night and 5 – 6 hours for seniors.
When do we speak of lack of sleep?
For most adults, therefore, the limit to lack of sleep is a nightly sleep duration of 6 hours – anything below that is too little and leads to permanent health impairments.
However, since daily activity also plays a role, the limit to lack of sleep for very active people could be reached at less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Naturally, the crucial factors determining the effectiveness of recovery and rejuvenation are the length and level of intensity experienced during the profound stages of sleep.
Insufficient sleep triggers irritation in the thyroid gland and amplifies the production of stress hormones
The influence of lack of sleep on the sugar balance has been known for some time: Even in young test subjects who had to make do with only four hours of sleep per day for a week, the sleep shortening left significant consequences: carbohydrate metabolism deteriorated and blood sugar levels (glucose) were elevated.
The production of thyroid hormones also got mixed up and in the evening high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were measured in the blood, which the body normally releases only in the early morning hours. These changes are similar to those that occur in the early stages of diabetes and often in the elderly.
Lack of sleep increases fat storage and inhibits satiety
What is new, however, is the realization that fat metabolism is also influenced by lack of sleep. A recent study published in the Journal of Lipid Research (2) at Pennsylvania State University found that as few as four consecutive days of lack of sleep significantly altered the response of fat metabolism and satiety in the subjects.
For this purpose, 15 young men were examined for 10 days in a sleep laboratory and exposed to a five-hour night’s sleep over five nights. The result was a faster emptying of the blood lipid stores and increased fat storage instead of fat burning.
In addition, a feeling of satiety in the test subjects that occurred late or not at all could be observed after a usual, high-fat evening meal. No one had trouble creating the feudal high-calorie meal, according to study leader Kelly Ness.
Sleeping in normalizes fat metabolism
Following the sleep-deprived days, the participants were given a weekend to sleep in. The aim was to determine whether the fat metabolism would return to normal mode.
The result was a slight improvement and normalization, but no return to the initial level before the experiment. Ness suspects that the effect would have been even greater after several days of regeneration.
The less sleep, the more obesity in adolescents
Another study by the National Institutes of Health appeared in 2019 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics(3). It came to the conclusion that the fewer night owls among young people slept at night, the more overweight they accumulated.
Weight gain was particularly evident among the females of the 804 teenagers surveyed. The study leaders concluded that an improvement in the sleep routine or sufficient sleep is a tool in the fight against obesity in childhood and adolescence, especially in girls.
Lack of sleep suppresses fat-burning hormones
According to medical experts, the strongest fat-burning substance in the human body, growth hormone (or somatotropic hormone STH), is mainly formed in the first hours of deep sleep and in the early morning hours prior to awakening. The distribution of STH is subject to external influences.
First and foremost is the night’s sleep: regular, undelayed, and uninterrupted sleep is one of the basic requirements for the release of STH by the pituitary gland. Lack of sleep and going to bed late, on the other hand, can significantly reduce the release of this important natural fat burner.
Consequently, this leads to diminished nighttime fat metabolism and a delay in the recovery of human tissues that experience regular wear and tear, including muscles and connective tissue. This is because the increased transportation of amino acids required for muscle building is facilitated by STH.
Lack of sleep lowers testosterone levels and thus inhibits fat loss
The level of another important fat-burning hormone is also ensured by adequate sleep: that of testosterone. It is known that lack of sleep can massively impair and lower testosterone levels (4). Testosterone is also responsible for muscle building and fat loss.
In this respect, lack of sleep can negatively affect fat metabolism by suppressing the two extremely important hormones of fat burning – namely growth hormone and testosterone – and thus lead to obesity in the long term.
The three rules of sleep to lose weight while sleeping
To lose weight while sleeping, or better yet, to promote your nightly fat-burning, the following three sleep rules are helpful:
1. The right dinner
In order to be able to produce as much fat-burning growth hormone as possible at night, you should pay attention to the right dinner. Reduce the consumption of carbohydrates and fats in the evening, as these inhibit the release of growth hormone (5) as well as alcohol, which lowers STH by up to 70 to 75% – 2 or 3 glasses of beer are sufficient for this.
If, on the other hand, you eat protein-rich foods, the formation of STH can be promoted, because it consists of 191 amino acids. Growth hormone is stimulated in particular by the amino acid L-arginine.
Good plant-based sources of arginine-containing protein include pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, lentils, and hazelnuts. A high-quality vegan protein powder works even better, with rice protein powder being particularly rich in arginine.
The protein powder is best taken on an empty stomach (in the form of an evening protein shake), as the amino acids are then hardly accompanied by fats, carbohydrates, and fiber and can thus – almost pure – develop their effect better.
Sufficient vitamin B6 is also needed to form the natural fat burner – a deficiency can inhibit the release of STH by 50%. In this case, it is advisable to take a good vitamin B supplement or multivitamin supplement every day, which provides at least the recommended daily dose of 1.6 mg of vitamin B6 per day.
Natural vegan sources of vitamin B6 include walnut kernels, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, and peanuts. Since these are usually also rich in arginine, eating them kills two birds with one stone.
2. The right amount of sleep
As a basic rule for the duration of sleep, you can look at the recommendations given above, 7 – 9 hours is optimal for an adult.
Even more important than the theoretical scientific recommendations, however, is your own subjective feeling of relaxation. In any case, sleep until you feel refreshed and productive every day! And it is crucial to ensure that you fall asleep prior to midnight.
3. The right indoor climate in the bedroom: oxygen content and temperature
Burning fat requires ten percent more oxygen than burning carbohydrates. Therefore, sleep with the window open, the window in the bedroom should be open at least a crack to let in enough fresh air.
Especially in small bedrooms, where there is rarely ventilation and where several people breathe at the same time, the oxygen content of the air sometimes drops considerably, while the carbon dioxide content increases due to exhalation, which inhibits fat burning.
In addition, it is advisable not to heat the bedroom, but rather to sleep coolly, so that the body can release heat energy and build up fat-burning brown adipose tissue.
Lose weight while you sleep
Losing weight while sleeping is therefore quite possible, but the above three rules should be supported by other measures to lose weight. Because if you eat too much or the wrong thing, if you season the wrong thing, or if you drink the wrong thing, a good figure will be a long time coming despite the best sleep routine.