Does Sleep Help Lose Weight? How Sleep Helps Weight Loss




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Most people will casually observe, especially when trying to actively lose weight or body fat, that the scale looks much more friendly in the morning.

This leads many to want to weigh themselves for progress each morning like it is some magical weight loss to help make your numbers look good, but how much weight do you lose overnight?

Most people will show a scale loss of 1-3 pounds overnight, which is due in large part to your water loss through water vapor from breathing. Each breath sheds moisture into the air as it’s breathed out, while each one may be small on its own – they all add up over time!

Since you can lose some water weight overnight it can help you to have a lower weight in the morning.

If this helps motivate you and keep you on track to lose body fat and get your results then you should maintain this approach.

Why Do You Lose Weight When You Sleep?

Everyone knows that when you sleep you wake up down overall weight which for many is purely magical.

Why does everyone weigh themselves in the morning, well duh, it is when I will weigh the least!

Let’s jump into a few specific things to help you understand why you lose this weight and to grant you more information on why you can’t just “sleep” off the weight on your body.

Water Vapor

I didn’t realize the amount of water vapor contained within each breath you take, it’s pretty crazy that you lose moisture all night as you sleep.

This is where most of your losses occur during the night and why you put it back on so fast once you start going in the morning.

Carbon Loss

The other loss which occurs overnight as a partner to the water vapor is carbon through CO2 exhalation.

This is the carbon dioxide you breathe out from your lungs and the carbon, while very small, adds up over an elongated period of sleep.

How Much Weight Do You Lose Overnight on Average?

Each night you rested you burn off some of your body in the process of keeping warm and maintaining all the needed systems which consistently breathe.

How much weight do you lose overnight on average? The average weight lost over a night of sleep comes in at 1-3 pounds as you sweat and breathe consistently. This weight comes from carbon, water vapor, and sweat from balancing body temperature.

The only way to viably increase this would be to build up your RMR, or resting metabolic rate, to help your body’s engine run more effectively and burn off additional calories.

As a reminder since the majority of your weight loss will be water weight you will put it back on fast once you begin drinking water.

How Much Water Weight do you Lose at Night?

Water weight will make up a large part of your overnight weight loss mostly due to the rhythmic breathing and the associated water vapor and carbon dioxide each exhale.

This volume while small on each breath adds up to be anywhere from 1-3 pounds over a night. This weight rapidly comes back though when you begin eating and drinking again.

If You Sweat at Night do You Lose Weight?

As with breathing you will lose some water weight through sweat itself which means that it can help you lose weight.

As with any water vapor lost from sleep, the weight will come right back with liquid consumption as your body replaces the lost hydration.

The amount and weight are probably very small with sweat unless you are running exceedingly warm, I would expect this to be a minimal part of your weight loss during the night.

Which Sleeping Position Burns the Most Calories?

Well if sleeping is so impressive at burning off some water weight then which position would be the most beneficial?

There is a great amount of anecdotal data online for why one position would help more than another. Which sleeping position burns the most calories?

The common anecdotal responses online were that they did best at dropping pounds when side or back sleeping.

This would maximize breathing out during the night to help you expel water and allow for more continual rhythmic breathing.

Looking at the other information the worst would probably have to be stomach sleepers.

This would be due to less outward breathing as many will face into a pillow, bed, or sheet.

How Does Sleep Impact Weight?

While everyone has known that exercise and nutrition play a large part in overall weight loss there has been a lot of research into the need for sleep or rest and its impact.

The NIH has a good post here about cognitive changes which may impact us with less sleep.

This recent study, along with this one, has shown a large impact around when people don’t get enough sleep they have multiple issues start which relate to hunger.

Each of these adds to an issue of gaining weight as the hormones impacted control these signals.

Those who don’t get enough sleep have an increased level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, along with decreased levels of your satiety hormone, called leptin.

How Does a Lack of Sleep Impact Weight Loss?

This combination of leptin and ghrelin signaling has a high prevalence to lead someone to overeat and the inevitable weight gain.

When people are sleep deprived they tend to consume almost 300 calories more per day than when well-rested.

Consuming 300 more calories a day means adding a pound or there about every 10-12 days and may be a cause of the insidious weight gain that people get confused about where they don’t get “how” it occurs.

Ghrelin and leptin - hormones regulating appetite - post on How Much Weight Do You Lose Overnight
Leptin the satiety hormone. Ghrelin the hunger hormone

As you can tell sleep is a vital function to our well-being and part of why I wanted to speak on the three core pillars of eating, fitness, and sleep.

Missing any one of these three will yield unfavorable results and cost you in the long term!

Do You Burn Fat Overnight?

Is it possible to burn fat overnight, well yes, since you aren’t eating anything for 8 hours it will start to use body fat for that fuel but the overall calorie value without activity isn’t very high overall.

This small incremental fat burn isn’t going to allow you to get ripped by being lazy, the truth is that it will help you be prepared for more fat burning in the morning before you eat and perform activities.

In fact this is a large part of why intermittent fasting has re-grown in popularity in recent years again is around the science backing this benefit.

What Makes You Burn Fat Overnight?

There is no magic bullet to make you burn fat overnight, forget all the cures that people try to sell you about drinking potions or other crap.

Body fat loss isn’t magic and isn’t able to be manipulated in the ways many of these product sellers try to sell you.

To burn fat overall you need to have as much muscle mass as possible, the more the better.

This will increase your metabolism, meaning your body will need to burn more calories at rest to keep up maintenance on everything.

This will help add to the burn you have every day and this is how you start to lose body fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn.

People have come to hate that phrase (CICO) as I feel it requires them to take on the blame for their poor results.

People who get results know that this simple metabolic rule works perfectly for being able to consistently gain and lose weight.

What is the Best Way to Burn Fat While You Sleep?

The best way to burn fat is to increase your body muscle mass, the increase in the muscle mass will increase your RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate, the calories you burn at rest to maintain your existing needs.

If you lose 1 pound of weight, but it is 85% muscle, you have started to sacrifice your RMR to gain overall weight loss. Instead you should strive instead to lose 15% muscle and 85% fat out of that pound which is why I say fat loss all the time instead of weight loss.

Many think that when you “lose weight” your metabolism goes down at the same time.

I would counter-argue that while some may effectively diet a great many are more worried about weight loss, not muscle loss.

Typically you can manage to lessen muscle loss when dieting if you intake enough protein and amino acids to supply the muscles with everything they need.

Teach yourself that staying true to diet, fitness, and sleep is what will get you to RESULTS.

How Can I Improve my Sleeping Habits?

There are some simple things you can do to help yourself achieve better sleep and build habits to get you some better rest.

Each of these is pretty easy by itself and I would suggest implementing them one at a time into your life.

Build A Consistent Sleep Schedule

In our fast-paced insane world, most of us change our sleep habits almost daily, going to bed at a range of hours from 9 pm-1 am or even later all in the name of getting “more time”.

The problem with maintaining a non-stop changing sleep schedule is your body is a machine that likes to have a schedule.

Constant shifts to these times can actually cause your body some serious havoc in helping you get good sleep.

Learning and setting a time can help you become more organized and structure will help get you to sleep with more regularity.

This would mean setting a bedtime of, for example, 10 pm and waking at 5 am.

This helps you set a mental picture of what your day is and when you plan the day to end which will help you ensure you complete things on time with less wasted time within the day.

Build a Bedtime Routine

A routine helps you mentally prepare for bed just as much as a time, routines involve washing your face, brushing your teeth, and completing all the necessary tasks for bed.

In addition, this means if you have a bedtime at 10 pm that you would work to ensure you are in bed at this time every day, this helps build the routine that will help you get better sleep.

Keep Your Bedroom Quiet and Relaxing

One thing that plague people is the number of things they have in their rooms to end the evening, instead of coming into a room with a bed they come into an entertainment system.

Instead of having a television and other devices, look instead to have your bedroom be a place of pure quiet, having the quiet helps you get mentally relaxed enough to fall asleep soundly.

Make sure your alarm clock and devices are stored across the room where they can’t be interacted with and then lay down and read if not tired, this relaxed area will help you get to a mindset where you can just go to sleep.

Another key for myself was to drop the overall temperature in my bedroom by a couple of degrees as this is a trigger to your body, like a night outside, that it is nighttime and will help you move towards sleeping well.

Limit Lights and Devices

Due to our connected nature in society, we have a hard time limiting our exposure t artificial lights. We constantly have to look at Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to get a “fix” of dopamine.

To ensure a higher quality of your sleep you should look at limiting your exposure to artificial lights including television, computers, and your damn cell phones.

This will ensure an easier time in getting to a restful sleep, many people will have issues getting a good REM sleep cycle when they use devices as it appears to mess up most people’s circadian rhythms.

Daily Exercise and Good Nutrition

Use the machine you were given at birth, not that you need to be an Olympic Athlete, nor even a Crossfitter, but just become more active and get your body working as it helps make your body stronger and will help sleep as you will need the recovery.

In matching with our mantra the other part of having a good healthy sleep will be in eating high-quality food and giving your body what it needs.

We have become a junk food nation and it shows in our bodies as well as in our activities.

Quality food choices will help provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to perform recovery and energize your body, helping to make you WANT to be more active!

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Prior to Bed

Many of us, myself included, can’t stop drinking caffeine when we should and this can lead to issues getting good and restful sleep.

Typically it is suggested to stop caffeine after dinner, for myself, I have found about 2-3 hours prior to bedtime and I will be fine.

As to alcohol, many will drink right up until they leave the bar or residence to head home.

This will yield some exceedingly poor overall sleep as REM sleep is impacted highly by alcohol intake.

What is a Good Sleep Routine?

A good sleep routine is built of multiple manageable aspects to bedtime. You need to set aside, preferably, 8 hours of sleep.

You can choose 7 hours but less will be under the recommended amount of sleep for an adult.

Additionally, you want to have a set bedtime and time to wake up and have them be the same each day, this is how you build your routine and you will become a machine at following this schedule if you do it long enough.

Final Thoughts on Weight Loss During Sleep

I have always slept poorly, even thinking back to middle school and high school. I was the kid who was up until 1 am and then had trouble getting up to catch the school bus.

This may be why I have ALWAYS battled with my weight and being fat, it is definitely a reason why I decided to make this site while cutting through the BS to give real, actionable, help to people like you and me.

Stop focusing only on what the scale says in the morning, use it as a tool to work on your progress and if it helps you to measure in the morning there are benefits, like the fact your stomach is empty of food and water.

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