Anyone who watched Amy Schumer’s “Sleep Gym Weight loss Plan” comedy sketch gave it an if-only-it-were-true chuckle at the very least (while the rest of us laughed so hard that we stopped emitting sound for several oxygen-deprived minutes).
While no one will drag your unconscious body through a calorie-torching workout while you peacefully sleep (or will they?), there are a few low-maintenance evening habits you can take on that actually can activate your metabolism to burn more calories while you sleep.
That’s right. Lose weight. While sleeping.
No, you are not dreaming. Not yet. But after finding out how simple it is to boost your night-time metabolism, you may suddenly find you are getting sleepy….
10 Bedtime Habits that Help You Lose Weight by Morning
1. Make Sleep a Top Priority
Sleep hours are when your body does most of its internal maintenance, repair and tune-up work, optimizing all of your body functions, regulating your hormones and determining how optimally you store and burn calories. That’s what a study from the University of Wisconsin found, when it determined that people who get more sleep have lower levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates hunger and triggers the need to eat) and higher levels of leptin (the hormone that keeps your appetite low and regulates your energy levels), helping to control their appetites throughout the day. Another study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that, on average, overweight people get less sleep a night than people of average weight, and that the effects of less sleep on one’s weight accumulate over time.
Researchers at the University of Colorado found that people consumed 6 percent fewer calories when they got enough sleep every night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults should be getting 7 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
2. Tryp Out with a Good Evening Snack
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many high-protein foods, and research has linked it with deep sleep-inducing effects. One study found that just ¼ gram of tryptophan – what you’d get in 3 ounces of turkey meat or a skinless chicken drumstick – was enough to significantly increase the number of hours spent in deep sleep for insomniacs.
Eating a lean 3 – 4 ounce portion of a high-tryptophan food for your last meal of the day – such as lean turkey, low-fat cottage cheese, a healthy protein shake, a spinach omelet, poached halibut or salmon, etc. – can help to satisfy your stomach before bed while also inducing a deeper and more restful sleep.
Avoid foods that are high in sugar, flour, simple or processed carbohydrates, caffeine, salt or alcohol in the evening, all of which disrupt your hormones, weight loss and healthful sleep patterns.
3. Close the Kitchen 3 Hrs. Before Bed
Stopping all eating 2 to 3 hours before bed helps you lose more weight, even if you eat more food during the daytime, suggests research published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
For 100 days, two groups of mice were put on a high-fat, high-calorie diet. While both groups were given the same number of calories to eat every day, one group was only given healthy controlled foods but was allowed to eat both night and day. The other group had access to any foods they wanted, but were only allowed to eat during an 8 hour window in the daytime. The result: the mice that only ate during the day time and refrained from eating through the evening and night stayed lean, while the mice who ate the same amount but nibbled around the clock became obese.
Extending the number of hours that you fast through the night can have a powerful effect on your weight loss.
4. Drink a Cuppa Tea
While the kitchen may close 3 hours before bedtime, you can still keep the kettle hot. Drinking herbal, naturally caffeine-free tea before bed can have many benefits, such as curbing night-time hunger, relaxing you in preparation for a good night’s sleep, and certain teas are said to have metabolism-boosting properties.
Peppermint tea is a naturally calming fragrant tea that helps to supress night-time appetite while also soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract. Rooibos tea and lavender tea contain compounds linked to the reduction of stress hormones and anxiety, while chamomile tea helps to increase a nerve-relaxing amino acid in the body shown to relax muscles and help to alleviate insomnia. Ginger tea has traditionally been used to ease nausea and stomach pain, and numerous studies have also shown that it blocks enzymes and genes that lead to bloat-causing stomach inflammation and distention. Dandelion tea is a natural diuretic, mild natural laxative and helps to regulate the digestive system, helping to relieve bloating, water retention, constipation and menstrual cramps.
5. Stick to a Bed-Time Ritual
Doing the same line-up of activities before bed-time every night actually programs your brain to associate relaxation and sleepiness with this nightly routine, preparing your mind and body for a proper sleep.
Here’s a good evening routine to try on: Start by doing an evening workout, followed by stretching. Then take a candle-lit bath or shower. Put on a comfy natural-fiber pair of pajamas. Sit down with a cup of tea and a novel (don’t read off a computer or smart device), or while jotting in your journal or tomorrow’s to-do list. Shut off all the lights, slip between the cool sheets, and feel the pleasant tide of sleep effortlessly roll over you…
6. Fit In an Evening Session of Resistance Training
Resistance training before bed can help to optimize your weight loss while you sleep, says a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition. Subjects who performed evening weight training (using weights) or bodyweight exercises (using the weights of their own bodies for resistance, such as push ups, pull ups, crunches, squats, etc.) experienced a higher resting metabolic rate for an average of 16 hours following their workout, which means their metabolisms continued to burn through fat long after they stopped exercising and continued doing so into the night.
Breaking up your daily workout routine also makes it easier to fit it into your day. Do some cardio first thing in the early morning before work, to get the heart pumping and create a fantastic buzz of energy flow through your day. Later on in the evening, do resistance training to tighten and tone up your body while sky-rocketing your metabolism to burn fat all night long.
7. Kill the Lights
Exposure to light at night can kill both your chances of a deep sleep and of losing weight, says a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Subjects who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than subjects who slept in the brightest rooms. Lights at night disrupt melatonin production, the hormone that regulates sleep patterns.
And that doesn’t just apply to night lights. Pediatric Obesity reported that kids exposed to the glow of a television or computer at night are more likely to suffer from insufficient sleep, poor lifestyle habits and to be overweight. The researchers found that these results compound in relation to the number of electronic devices in the bedrooms.
Improve sleep and weight loss by avoiding the television and computer right before bed-time. Unplug all devices in your room that emit light (even faint after-glows) and charge your cell phones and other devices outside your bedroom.
8. Chill Out in Bed
Opening the windows to let in cold air, cranking up the AC or turning down the heat in winter can help you lose weight while you sleep. Research published in the journal Diabetes found that colder temperatures activate “brown fat” inside our bodies, cells that strive to re-balance core temperature by burning white body fat (the kind that makes us flabby).
Learn more ways to activate brown fat tissue to get slim
The participants in the study who slept in the coldest bedrooms nearly doubled their volume of brown fat, which exponentially increased the amount of white doughy fat that their bodies burned while sleeping.
9. Have Sex
Having solo or partnered sex activates hormones that promote feelings of relaxation, calm and stress-relief, sending you off into blissful sleep more easily.
And. Sex has some other perks too.
If it’s lights-out but you’re still having trouble shutting off, then focusing on your breathing can help to slow down your heart rate and quiet your mind in order to give you that extra push into dreamland.
Try this 4-6-8 breathing meditation: Lay in bed in a dark room. Close your eyes and expel all the air in your lungs. Then inhale deeply through your nose for a slow count of 4. Then hold in that breath for a count of 6. Then slowly release the air through your mouth for a count of 8, making a breathy “whoooo” sound through your lips. Repeat this for 5 to 8 cycles. Return to normal breathing and then repeat if necessary.