You never stop burning calories. So long as you’re using energy, you’re burning away. Since you’re not particularly energetic while sleeping, how many calories do you burn sleeping? It can’t be many, can it? Let’s find out.
How Many Calories Do We Burn In a Day?
To truly understand how your body burns calories, we need to start while you’re awake. Here’s a quick overview of why everyone will burn calories differently, day or night.
You are constantly burning calories, even if you’re lying on a bed, doing nothing. Your body is awake, your muscles are moving, so therefore you’re using energy. Your brain uses this energy by being active and awake, too.
The average man burns around 2,500 calories a day, where women are more in the 2,000 range, but it varies. This is a minimum calorie burn based on the average adult of a typical weight—neither excessively large nor small.
How many calories you burn is directly linked to your body weight, and how much muscle you have on your body, too.
A larger frame takes more energy to power, especially when there are muscles involved. At the same time, having muscle boosts your metabolism so you’re burning even more calories. That’s why you might see bodybuilders carb-loading and eating up to 5,000 calories a day when preparing for a competition. They need no fat, all muscle, and tons of energy.
The more you move throughout the day and the heavier you are, the more calories you burn—it’s as simple as that. The same can apply at night.
How Does This Calorie Burn Translate While Asleep?
When sleeping, your body goes into energy conservation mode—think of a computer left on standby overnight.
In light sleep you may move around a lot, some people more than others, wherein deep and REM sleep you’re relatively locked in place and don’t move at all—but your brain is still active, and burning calories.
This mild activity has you burning about 50 calories an hour, which is an approximate estimation and won’t apply to everyone.
Using this approximation we can determine that most of us burn around 400 calories during an 8-hour slumber. Although, some sources disagree and state you burn closer to 266-342 calories.
Are Sleep Stages and Calorie Burn Linked?
You go through four stages during the night, two light and two deep. As you’re essentially paralyzed during one, you may wonder if you burn fewer calories during that stage. On the other hand, as you’re paralyzed your brain is still active, so does that lead to a higher calorie burn?
The answer is the latter. During REM sleep, where your brain is the most riled up, your body is using up a lot of energy too.
For the first few sleep stages, your body relaxes, your heart rate decreases and your breathing slows. However, once you hit REM, your heart rate jumps back up and that brain activity is demanding, requiring a higher calorie burn. Your brain needs lots of glucose to function to a high capacity, leading to the burn.
As for which stage you burn the least calories in, it’s stage three: deep sleep. Your body and mind are very relaxed, so it’s not a demanding sleep stage.
Can You Increase Your Calorie Burn While Sleeping?
For one thing, not sleeping can temporarily increase how many calories you burn while awake. First of all, your body needs more energy to function efficiently because you missed out on a night of rejuvenation. Second of all, you burn the most calories while awake so you’re going to burn more within 24 hours.
However, you can’t translate this increased burn to your actual time asleep.
The only way to increase how many calories you burn in sleep is by increasing how many calories you burn in general. One way to do this is by gaining a ton of fat, but that’s counterproductive and unhealthy. Instead, you need to gain muscle.
You don’t need to bulk up or anything, but muscle is heavy and makes you weigh more. Weighing more increases how many calories you burn, plus, having more muscle than fat raises your metabolism which also contributes to the increase.
Eat healthily, work out regularly and lift some weights—that should do the trick to get you burning more calories in your sleep. You continue burning calories for hours after weight training, too, which can only help.
Eating healthily improves your quality of sleep too—leading to more time in REM, and more calories burned by night.
Are Sleep and Weight Linked?
Considering how skip[ping a night of sleep can make you burn more calories, are sleep and weight linked in any other ways?
Yes, but none so positive.
Studies show that a lack of sleep is linked to obesity in the long term. This isn’t shocking, as going without sleep can raise certain hormones that control your appetite. The increased hormone levels make you crave calorie-dense foods,
Furthermore, your cortisol levels also raise with a lack of sleep. Cortisol usually helps your body regulate glucose—energy—but fails to do so when raised, which can make you gain weight easier.
You burn 400 calories while sleeping, based on a highly-approximate estimate. A more realistic figure is 266-342 and it all depends on your weight and how active your brain gets during REM sleep. While you can’t increase the number easily, you can do the following to raise how many calories you burn in general:
- Eat healthily.
- Work out regularly.
- Lift weights.
- Try to get high-quality sleep and spend more time in REM.
It’s still no guarantee, but it never hurts to try and boost your metabolism which leads to an overall healthier you.