- When you burn body fat, 98% of that is done during sleep.
- This only happens during deep sleep. Many people sleep badly meaning they don’t get enough deep sleep. Learn how to get better quality sleep naturally.
- Learn how to maximize your fat burn.
Yes! You burn body fat while sleeping. We burn 98% of our fat while sleeping, but only during deep delta wave sleep. If you want to know how to reduce body fat, you need to understand how sleep works and what you need to do to get good quality sleep. By the end of this article, you will know how to improve the quality of sleep you get and how to maximize your fat burn while sleeping.
Delta Wave Sleep
During deep sleep, our brains produce slow delta waves. If we are sleeping deeply for long enough, we go through a delta wave sleep phase 4 times a night. If you are not getting that delta wave sleep you are not burning fat.
When you are exercising you are burning calories. But if you weigh yourself before and after the exercise you will notice that you weigh roughly the same. The fat burning is happening in the deep sleep. After the exercise, in the recovery phase, you burn fat.
During the night we are not eating, but the body still needs the energy to do all the repair work. There is a hormone that is released by the liver to slowly release fat for energy whole night. This hormone is called growth hormone.
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the phase during which we dream and is also a deep sleep phase. Unless you are prone to sleepwalking and such, your muscles will be paralyzed so that you don’t act out your dreams and for the most part, just our eyes move around. It is thought that our eyes move around because of what we are seeing and looking at in our dreams. REM sleep occurs a couple of times a night.
This, however, is not the phase where you burn fat. So, if you think that last night you dream a lot. It already means a deep sleep, for not necessarily means that you reached the deepest cycle.
We all have a circadian rhythm. Before the time of technology and industry, our circadian rhythms were set to the rising and setting of the sun. This ensured that we were awake during the day and asleep at night. At night your brain starts to secrete melatonin which increases as the night goes on so that you will fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.
Many things have thrown our circadian rhythm off such as shift work and LED screens and lights. If you want to get enough good quality sleep to stay healthy and burn fat, you should ideally be asleep by 11 pm as after that, more stress hormones are released which can hamper sleep. We also experience more deep sleep with the slow delta waves in the first half of the night.
Closer to sunrise, you will have less deep sleep phases and melatonin secretion starts to decrease closer to dawn so that you are able to wake up in the morning. New tech companies have started understanding the importance of lightning to our brains. That’s why Apple has integrated Night Shift to all the iPhones. Your screen will mimic the sunset means it has orange color at the dawn.
The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation doesn’t just refer to sleeping fewer hours, but also how much quality sleep you had. In fact, you are far better off getting five hours of good quality sleep than getting 8 hours of poor quality sleep.
- Your hormones get messed up: Tests were done on leptin (Leptin is a hormone that lets your brain know that you are full after eating) and ghrelin (lets your brain know that you are hungry) levels after only 4 hours of sleep showed that leptin is reduced by 18% and ghrelin is raised by 28%. This increases your appetite by 24% and puts you at a massive 73% higher risk of becoming obese.
- Your other hormones too: Testosterone is also lowered during sleep deprivation and cortisol, our stress hormone, and insulin are raised which over time can lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Lack of energy and poor stress response: You will not be as well rested if at all which will affect your entire day. Sleep deprivation causes people to have a shorter fuse so to speak and be more prone to depression and anxiety. You will be less able to deal with stress which makes you even more tired.
- Poor concentration and memory: During sleep, your mind also gets a chance to recharge. Your memory, attention span, problem-solving ability, and ability to learn are all affected during sleep deprivation. Your motor control is also affected making you more prone to accidents and mistakes.
- Weak immune system: Because deep sleep is when your body does all the repair work if you are sleep deprived your immune system will be weaker and you will take longer to heal.
Causes of Poor Sleep and the Solution
1. Sleep Apnea
The number one cause of sleep problems is called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a breathing problem and stress is often the reason. Meditation is a great way to relieve stress. Other risks for apnea include being overweight. Need to lose weight? Why not do it while eating full-fat foods. Sleeping on your side can also alleviate sleep apnea.
Other things that you can do is to stop smoking and avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime. When sleep apnea is severe, doctors often prescribe the use of a c-pap machine, special dental devices, or recommend surgery. This can be avoided by following a healthy lifestyle in most cases.
2. The Need to Urinate
While it is seen as a common habit to wake up during the night to urinate, it is actually a bladder problem. Of course, if you drank a liter water before bedtime it is another story, but waking up to urinate regularly (more than once a night) indicates a bladder problem.
Bladder problems are seen in people who:
- Are going through menopause
- Have an enlarged prostate
- Have fibroids
Your doctor will be able to help you treat any health conditions and manage your menopause a bit better. Fibroids are typically caused by excess estrogens. Dr. Berg recommends that you eat more cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower to shrink fibroids. These tips can also help:
- Avoid liquids a few hours before bed
- Avoid citrus fruits at night
- Avoid spicy food at night since it can irritate your bladder
3. Poor Digestion
If you get bloated after eating dinner it could be a sign of poor digestion. Digestion problems will prevent you from going into that deep sleep. The best way to prevent this would be to eat no less 3 hours before you sleep. All the nerves in the digestive system go to the brain and have a big impact on your overall health. So much so that your digestive system is called your second brain.
Eating hard to digest foods such as grains can also make your stomach uncomfortable for hours after you have eaten. So try to minimize the amount of grains you eat, especially gluten-containing grains. Spicy foods can also be problematic, especially if you struggle with IBS.
Not to worry, there are simple things that you can do to improve digestion, such as taking pancreatic enzymes or drinking a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals.
Some people do not enjoy the present situation. They don’t always see the advantages and the blessings they have. Rather they keep worrying or thinking negatively and stress themselves out. Sometimes these thoughts even wake them up after they have fallen asleep. Thinking doesn’t mean anything. So take a deep breath and practice gratitude.
My husband and I practice gratitude every night. We talk about our blessings. Experiments have shown such a powerful effect this on rewiring your brain to be happier in life and help you to live longer.
If you don’t like meditating, deep breathing or listening to calming music is very helpful and you may find that St. John’s Wort can help with stress and depression too. Don’t take St. John’s Wort if you are on birth control pills, antidepressants, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
5. High Pulse Rate
If you are keeping your stress under control and haven’t exercised too late, a racing pulse can be due to a potassium deficiency. Take potassium at night before you go to sleep. I take 200 mg magnesium, 100 mg potassium, collagen protein, and raw honey at night with chamomile tea to give my body what it needs to sleep deeply and repair itself.
The daily requirement for health is 4000 mg but many people fall short of this intake. So, add potassium-rich foods to your diet like squash, chard, avocados, and sweet potatoes.
6. High Blood Pressure
Causes of high blood pressure include:
- Being overweight
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Lack of exercise
- Eating too much sodium
- Sleep apnea
Taking vitamin D3 (1000 IU per 11 kg/ 25 lb bodyweight) and vitamin K2 (2000 mcg, 100 mcg of that should be the MK-7 form of vitamin K) will help with this as they work synergistically with calcium (an electrolyte as well as a mineral) which has a direct impact on your blood pressure.
Good food sources of these nutrients are grass-fed meat, fatty fish, leafy greens, and eggs. Food is not as nutritious as it once was and supplements can really benefit your health.
Anyone who has been in pain knows that it can really disrupt your sleep. Knee pain and back pain are the most common culprits. Light exercise such as swimming and walking can be really beneficial in reducing pain.
Strengthening the muscles that support your back and knees is also important. Glute bridges, clamshell exercises, and half squats, for example, can be helpful for sciatica pain and for knee pain.
You can also include the following herbs and spices in your meals or make tea out of them to reduce inflammation:
8. Too Much Light
Your bedroom should be completely dark. This means switching off all electronics or covering LED lights with insulation tape and getting thick curtains. If you struggle to get your room dark, you can use a sleep mask instead. Light interferes with your sleep because your brain perceives it as daylight, especially the blue light emitted by LEDs.
You should also stay away from LED screens at least two hours before bed. This means your computer, TV, cellphone, and tablet.
9. EMF Radiation
Though you cannot see it, all the electronics in your home are emitting radiation. Some more than others. Wifi routers and Bluetooth, as well as smartphones, emit enough EMF radiation to interfere with your sleep and cause health problems. Reducing your exposure can be as simple as switching off your router and putting your phone on airplane mode or turning it off while you sleep.
If this is not possible, you can create distance between you and these devices by placing them in a different room.
10. Insufficient Melatonin Production
Staying away from LED lights and screens and keeping your room dark will go a long way to ensure melatonin production at the right times, but there are other ways to increase melatonin production.
Being exposed to bright sunshine for about 15 minutes in the morning will help to reset your circadian rhythm and exposure to sunlight during the day is also beneficial. It is also a great way to boost your vitamin D levels. Buy blue blocker glasses and wear them in the evening. This has profounds effects on my sleep.
Foods that Boost Melatonin Production
- Raw dairy
- Tart cherries
- Grass-fed Meat
Avoid caffeine after 6 pm, even earlier if you need to and don’t drink alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
Melatonin supplements have side effects like abdominal discomfort, anxiety and there is still not enough research to support that melatonin supplement benefits outweigh the side effects. If you have tried everything else and still have sleep problems I recommend that you find a natural plant-based melatonin supplement. Take it 2-3 times a week only.
11. Your bedroom is Too Hot or Too Cold
The optimum temperature for your room to be is between 60°F/ 15.5°C and 67°F/ 19°C. This is because a cooler body temperature will help you to sleep more deeply. If you are too hot you become uncomfortable and restless, if you are too cold, you will be shivering. Temperature can also affect your blood pressure which needs to be lower to sleep.
More Tips on How to Lose Fat
Part of learning how to make your body burn fat while you sleep is learning how to speed up your metabolism and encourage your body to burn fat:
1. Resistance/Weight Training
This is also known as strength training. Whether you do bodyweight exercises, lift weights, or use the machines at the gym, you will be strengthening your muscles and increasing your muscle mass. Women are often afraid of doing resistance training because they worry that they will bulk up, but women don’t have enough testosterone to be able to end up looking big and masculine.
Increased muscle mass speeds up your metabolism. HIIT workouts are especially great because they preserve muscle, and can help you to burn fat faster. It also causes an effect known as the afterburn effect. When exercise is performed intensely enough, your body burns more energy for 3-24 hours afterward. You will also get the benefit of cardio and resistance training.
Simply do a set of resistance exercises, or even explosive exercises like sprinting which strengthen your muscles to increase your power and speed for 20-60 seconds, then either rest completely or do something less intense for 10-45 seconds. HIIT workouts last between 10-30 minutes due to the intensity.
But, having said that, the best form of exercise is the one that you enjoy most, otherwise, you won’t want to do it. But, it is better for your body if you can put in 2 resistance training sessions per week if you only do cardio. If you do resistance training, add 2 days or so of cardio exercise. You can also do sports that combine the two like cycling (be sure to do hills too), hockey, basketball, or soccer.
The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. The benefits extend beyond weight-loss. You will sleep better and look better.
Don’t forget to eat a high protein post-workout snack within 15 minutes of working out. This will also increase your human growth hormone (HGH) levels which have anti-aging, weight loss, and healing benefits. (Amrit, please link to How to Increase Human Growth Hormone – Anit-Aging, Weight-loss Miracle).
2. Green Tea
Green tea is full of antioxidants that help to prevent premature aging and diseases and in particular, has the combination of caffeine and a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which produce a thermogenic effect (fat burn).
It makes the perfect pre-workout drink but helps you to burn fat throughout the day and even the night, just avoid drinking it later at night because it contains caffeine though it has about a quarter of the amount of caffeine that coffee does. Adding lemon to your green tea will boost all its health properties as they work together synergistically.
Coffee, preferably black with no sugar, is a source of antioxidants and caffeine. Caffeine has short-term fat burning (lipolysis) effects especially when used pre-workout. Unlike many of the energy drinks available that contain caffeine, coffee is naturally sugar-free. Ceylon tea and oolong tea also contain caffeine which makes them beneficial too.
Just a word on coffee. Not all coffees are equal. Make sure that you buy organic coffee and drink no more than two cups a day.
It takes more calories to digest protein than it does to digest other foods. Protein also helps to repair muscle tissue after workouts too. The foods that you eat will contain protein but when you want to supplement your intake, the type of protein you need depends on the time you want to take it.
- After a workout: Whey protein. It is absorbed quickly and so can get to work in your body quickly.
- Before bed: Casein or collagen. This is because they are absorbed more slowly and broken down slower in your body (6-8 hours) so your metabolism is sped up throughout the night. These two proteins are also helpful if you find that you are hungry before bed.
You can slow the digestion of protein down more by taking some fats with them. MCT oil is a great option, more so if you require energy during the day. Coconut milk is a good choice for night time.
- You need between 5-7.5 hours of good quality sleep per night.
- Sleep deprivation causes problems with concentration, weakens your immune system, causes hormonal imbalances, and increases your risk of anxiety and depression.
- To get better sleep, practice gratitude and meditation before sleeping, take potassium and magnesium before bed, sleep in a completely dark room, keep all electronics out of your bedroom, eat cruciferous vegetables, and avoid caffeine after 6 pm.
- To maximize your fat burn, drink green tea during the day, drink black sugar-free coffee as a pre-workout drink, do resistance training, especially HIIT.