Can You Burn Fat While Sleeping?

person sleeping with blanket

Fat loss is a goal nearly everyone wants at least at one point in their lives. If you’re someone who is actively seeking to lose weight right now, I’m sure you’re also seeking all of the diet and exercise tips you can to make that happen. However, what if you can burn fat another way in addition to diet and exercise? What if I told you it may be possible to burn fat while you’re sleeping?

Got your attention yet? Recent studies have shown that temperatures can alter the way the body burns fat, especially while you’re sleeping. So, this is good news for anyone here who likes to crank an AC or fan before you hit the hay for the night. A 4-month long study published in the Diabetes journal had a group of adults sleep in a room with different temperatures. Each month, they slept in a room that was 75ºF, 66ºF, 75ºF again and 81ºF (27.3ºC). What they found was that the month after sleeping at the coldest temperature (66ºF), the subjects were able to increase their metabolism by 10% as well as increase the amount of brown fat on their bodies by 42%.

I know what you’re thinking: how is that a fat loss success? All they did was gain more fat! Well, the thing is, brown fat is different than white fat which is the type of body fat we’re actually trying to get rid of because too much of it usually means poorer health outcomes. Brown fat is a lesser-known type of body fat that actually burns calories at rest because its main function in the body is to create heat when the body gets cold to regulate your body’s temperature. Basically, it appears that cooler temperatures create more brown fat during sleep which, in turn, means your metabolism is burning more calories than usual with the help of this brown fat.

Another study done by the University of Kentucky School of Medicine suggested that white fat, which really just functions to store extra calories for energy later, can behave like brown fat in response to colder temperatures. This effect isn’t only when you’re sleeping either, but can happen when you work out in the cold also. Finally, a recent study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that sleeping at colder temperatures could help you to burn 15% more calories at rest through brown fat. All good reasons to get out in that winter weather, rather than avoiding it, and pump out a few burpees!

The bottom line? We’ve written about how important good sleep is to weight loss goals and overall health. However, it appears that sleeping at cooler temperatures also can’t hurt in these categories either. So, try cranking up the AC on your next nightly slumber!

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