How To Get Lean FAST By Sleeping | 6 Simple Science-Based Steps

Burning calories by sleeping! Sounds more like a dream! The good news is, it is possible, the bad news is, not with all kinds of sleep!

Think about the last time you woke up fresh, it is usually followed by a great mood and a productive day. But ever wondered why sometimes you sleep for 7 hours and feel more satisfied than a night you sleep for 10 hours? What could be the science behind this?

In this article, we will cover the important stages of sleep and how you can use your sleep to lose weight and be more productive with your time.

I personally call Sleep the silent partner in your fat loss journey.

All my clients know how much I prioritize sleep, I always tell them ‘The weapon is right there in front of them and only a few are taking advantage of it, It is hugely underappreciated.’

In fact, getting between 7-9 hours alone of sleep made my fat loss process almost 2X easier compared to my previous years alone. I know this was probably the most helpful thing my clients got from me in our transformation journeys.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 3 people in the US is not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis (1). Now, there is an interesting trend here, 41.9%of adults in the US have obesity and it has increased over the past decade. No one denies that multiple factors play a role, but sleep and modern lifestyle are the main factors. let’s dive into the science behind this powerful connection!

We need to understand the stages of sleep first and how each stage contributes to fat loss:

Our sleep cycle consists of two main types: Non-REM sleep, which has three stages, and REM sleep. The entire sleep cycle takes about 90 to 110 minutes to complete, and we cycle through it multiple times each night.

Alright, let me simplify the stages. Consider falling asleep as starting a movie. Non-REM sleep is like the opening scenes of this movie, setting the stage for the story to unfold.

  • In the first stage, N1(falling asleep), during this stage, our heartbeat and breathing start to slow down, our eye movements start to decrease, and our muscles begin to relax, letting go of the hustle of the day. This is light sleep, and we can be easily awakened - just like how you might be easily distracted from the start of the movie by a latecomer. But as we move into deeper sleep stages, it becomes harder to be distracted from the unfolding story. It lasts about 1-7 minutes.

  • As sleep continues, we transition into stage N2 (Light sleep), which is like the main plot of the movie starting to unfold. Our heart rate and body temperature drop further, and the outside world is all but forgotten. Our eye movements stop, This stage accounts for about 40-60% of our sleep, much like how the main plot forms the bulk of a movie. But it is still light sleep but you're gradually moving into a deeper sleep. This stage is indirectly essential for proper metabolic regulation.

  • The third stage, N3 (Deep or slow-wave sleep), is the climax of the movie. This is called deep or slow-wave sleep. It's during this stage that the body does a lot of its repair work. Growth hormone is released, helping cell regeneration, and the immune system is strengthened. This stage helps you feel refreshed in the morning. If you're woken up during this stage, it's like being pulled away in the middle of the movie's climax - you'll likely feel groggy and disoriented. It accounts for 20% of our sleep.
  1. The release of growth hormon signilas cells and tissues repair and builds muscle mass. A higher muscle mass can increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning you'll burn more calories even when you're not exercising.
  2. This stage is also responsible for blood glucose metabolism, so disruptions in this stage can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.

  • After the deep sleep stages, we shift into REM sleep, which is like the end of the movie where the loose ends are tied up. This is the stage where most of our dreaming occurs. It's characterized by rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and faster breathing, like the flurry of emotions you feel during the movie's resolution. REM sleep is when our brain is the most metabolically active. It occupies 20-25% of a healthy sleep session. This stage of sleep is when your body burns the most calories. Poor REM sleep can lead to overeating and cravings for unhealthy foods.

In simple terms, disruption or little sleep will lead to a state of:

  • Decreased metabolism
  • Increased appetite and craving.
  • Increased stress hormone called cortisol. Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike, this stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours.

Therefore, to properly maintain a healthy metabolism and tissue health, you need a minimum of 4 to 6 sleep cycles a night.

A 2012 Swedish study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (2) revealed that sleep deprivation not only increases calorie intake by 250-300 calories, but also enhances cravings for high-carb, junk food, and sweets.(3, 4). So, there is a science behind why after a restless night of sleep or after only getting 4-5 hours in, you find yourself reaching for that chocolate muffin or large pizza.

This how important your sleep is, it makes you make better food choices.

Digging deeper into more scientific studies, A 2022 clinical trial with 80 adults found that those who increased their sleep duration cut their daily caloric intake by about 270 kcal. If maintained long-term, this could lead to a weight loss of roughly 26 lbs over three years.

A 2018 study by Wang and colleagues had a group of participants on a caloric restricted diet where separated into two groups:

Group A slept normal hours

Group B slept 1 hour less for 5 nights.

The results were staggering, both groups lost equal amounts of weight due to caloric restriction but what was lost exactly is the interesting part.

The group that slept enough hours lost approximately 83% of fat

The group that slept 1 hour less per day lost 85% Muscle Mass.

This study simply highlights the importance of sleep and its essence to true body recomposition. It is in my own experience if we truly want to achieve pure fat loss we simply have to pay more attention to how much sleep we are getting.

Another study also researched the effects of our hunger hormones, Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your body's fat cells and its main job is to tell your brain that you've had enough to eat. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is known as the "hunger hormone." It's released primarily in the stomach, and when your stomach is empty, ghrelin goes to the brain and says, "Hey, we need food down here!" Together, leptin and ghrelin help regulate your hunger and fullness signals, keeping your food intake in check.

According to research, sleep deprivation decreases leptin by %10 and increase ghrelin by %28, which means not only do you lose less fat but you also feel hungrier when you sleep less

Here comes the important question, how many hours of Sleep are needed?

This can vary according to age, but the general guideline for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Below is the recommended hours of sleep by the Sleep Foundation:

So, how can we get the best sleep quality?

STEP1. Regularity

This is not where I will tell you,’ Go to bed early and wake up early’. There's no "one size fits all" bedtime.

According to the sleep foundation, there are different sleep patterns, also known as chronotype, which is your body's natural preference for when you like to sleep and wake up. It's like your body's own built-in schedule for sleep and wakefulness. This is where the terms early birds and night owl come from.

The point here is, you have to know what pattern works the best for your body and schedule and stick to it.

Your body loves routine and setting a consistent sleep schedule can significantly boost your sleep quality and metabolism.

go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends and days off if you can. This practice helps regulate your body's internal clock and ensures that you reach each stage of sleep the recommended number of times per night. Remember that it should be tailored to your needs and lifestyle. Ideally, align your sleep cycle with the natural rhythm of daylight and darkness for the best health benefits.

STEP2. Darkness

Simply, Light tells the body it is time to be awake, and darkness tells the body it is time for sleep. Our bodies are programmed to respond to light and darkness. whether it is natural sunlight or artificial light from lamps and electronic devices. And in response to that Melatonin hormone, which is the hormone that promotes sleepiness gets either ‘stimulated or suppressed’.

Different types of light produce different effects on our brains. For example, blue light is a type of light that comes from the sun but is also emitted by LED lights and electronic devices including your TV, phones, tablets, and computers. This light has a specific range of wavelengths, somewhere between 400 to 495 nanometers, and the part that really gets to us is around 460-480 nanometers.

Here's how it messes with your sleep:

When you look at your phone or other sources of blue light, your eyes detect this light and send a message to your brain. Your brain has a special area, called the SCN, which acts like a master clock. When it gets the message that you're seeing light, it thinks it's daytime. The SCN tells another small part of your brain, the pineal gland, to stay off. This gland's job is to produce melatonin, when it's dark, which helps you sleep. Because the SCN thinks it's daytime due to the blue light, it tells the pineal gland not to produce melatonin. This means that your electronic devices induce similar effects to sunlight and being exposed to them around your sleep time suppresses melatonin production and makes it harder for you to fall asleep.

Furthermore, light exposure can make it more likely that you wake up between cycles, leading to fragmented rest.

Two things I highly recommend:

FIRST: Stop using your electronic devices at least 30 min before your sleep time, but If you can’t do this, I propose two other solutions:

  • Either invest in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses and wear them at night
  • or activate night shift on your phone and schedule it according to your sleep time,

SECOND: dimming down the lights in your room 1-2 hours before bed, this is also an incredible trigger to your brain that your sleep time is near.

But, If you are not a fan of darkness, recent studies have discovered red light to be the best color light to help you sleep, because it doesn’t suppress melatonin production and might even help with sleep quality.

STEP3. limit your caffeine

Coffee can sabotage your sleep quality and negatively affect your weight loss plan.

Caffeine is a stimulant. It has the ability to cause alertness and wakefulness which is why we love having it in the morning. Coffee, energy drinks, and pre-workout are the most common caffeine-containing drinks and most people take them on a daily basis.

That being said there are three massive hidden features of caffeine.

  1. It’s half-life.

The half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours and a quarter-life of about 10 hours. So that means after 5 hours of having a cup of coffee, 50% of the caffeine is still floating

around in your bloodstream and still 25% after 10 hours. So if you have a cup of coffee at 2 pm in the afternoon, that means at midnight you still have a quarter cup of coffee in your system.

  1. Second, caffeine can block deep sleep. Research shows it may decrease deep sleep time by 15-30%, especially when consumed near bedtime, making you wake up feeling less refreshed. (6)

You might say, I can drink a cup of coffee right before I sleep and fall asleep right away. Well, the quality of your sleep is what will be affected the most.

  1. Third, it can heighten anxiety by stimulating stress hormone release and overstimulating the nervous system, further impacting sleep quality.

So here is the tip: Reduce/Control Caffeine intake:

The FDA indicates that it is generally safe for adults to consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. However, there can be a lot of variation in the way people respond to and metabolize caffeine, some people might not be able to tolerate that much.

My clients had the same problem, not knowing the effects of caffeine. Drinking an extra cup past 2 pm.

The solution, at the very latest, I would stop consuming caffeine between 11 am to midday If i felt dangerous. That was a hard cut-off for caffeine intake and this improved my sleep and overall gains dramatically.

STEP4. limit your alcohol

While alcohol can make you feel sleepy and even help you fall asleep faster, it is not a sleep aid, it is a sedative. This is why the quality of sleep you get after drinking is often far from ideal.

Alcohol suppresses REM sleep at least during the first half of the sleep period (4), which is the stage associated with burning calories during sleep and with memory and learning. And let's not forget the frequent bathroom trips! Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can often lead to multiple awakenings during the night.

According to the Sleep Foundation, moderate amounts of alcohol: two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women, decreased sleep quality by 24%. and Having more than two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women decreased sleep quality by 39.2%.

STEP5. temperature

You might not have realized this, but your bedroom's temperature plays a crucial role in how well you sleep. A room that is too hot or too cold is not ideal for good-quality sleep.

The science behind this is your body temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the day and night, following a circadian rhythm. Body temperature decreases during the evening and reaches its lowest point in the early hours of the morning. This helps to initiate and maintain sleep.

According to sleep experts, the ideal room temperature range for sleep is between 18-20 C(64-68 degrees Fahrenheit). Having your bedroom at this optimal temperature can mimic your body's natural temperature drop, signaling to your body that it's time for sleep. Therefore, maintaining a cooler room can potentially enhance your sleep quality by aligning with your body's natural sleep-inducing processes.

Keeping your room within this cooler temperature range can help facilitate this process, leading to better, deeper sleep.

STEP6. Walk it out

Picture this: You're lying in bed, the minutes are ticking by, and sleep just isn't happening. What do you do? Well, let's talk about it

Here's a quick tip for those restless nights: If you can't fall asleep after 20-30 minutes, don't lie in bed. Leave the room and engage in a quiet activity like reading or meditation.

Try not to eat or drink anything other than water. And most importantly, don’t use your phone.

The idea behind this tip is based on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. The goal is to break the association your mind might be forming between your bed and the struggle to fall asleep.

By getting out of bed when sleep isn't happening, you're sending a message to your brain that bed equals sleep, not wakefulness and frustration.

So, from this, we understand how underrated sleep is, and that quality is really a big deal when it comes to sleep. This is why the 7 hours of sleep might have felt more refreshing for you than the 10-hour sleep on a weekend. Follow these steps and you will see a dramatic change in your energy, gains, and overall health.

If you sleep under 6 hours a night, you are setting yourself up for an uphill battle with your metabolism. Sleeping 6 hours a night or less will slow down your BMR and contribute to chronic stress, leading to burnout, weight gain, and overall breakdown of your body.

* How to track your sleep quality.

Lastly, if you are interested in knowing your sleep quality and you have an Apple watch or other wearable devices, there are many application that tells you the quality of sleep and how much time you spend in each stage.

The two highest-rated sleep trackers app are Sleep Score and Sleep Cycle, they are available on both IOS and Android

They give you a detailed analysis of your sleep stages to monitor your sleeping pattern from bedtime until you wake up which later can be used to improve your sleeping habits. They have many different other features, like sleep tips, smart alarm clocks, and your weekly sleep data. Give it a try.

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