You Can Burn Body Fat In Your Sleep
Dr. Mercola reveals the relationship between body fat and sleeping.
Thermoregulation—your body’s heat distribution system—is strongly linked to sleep cycles. Even lying down can induce sleepiness by redistributing your body heat from your core to your periphery.
Cooler Heads Prevail
While you sleep, your body’s internal temperature actually drops to its lowest level of the day, generally about four hours after you fall asleep.
Research has determined that insomniacs typically have a warmer core body temperature just before bed than normal sleepers, which leads to heightened arousal and difficulty drifting off.
The Secrets to Burning More Fat While You Sleep
New research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that sleeping in a cool room has significant calorie- and fat-burning health benefits.
According to Dr. Francesco Celi, Chairman of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, even a small reduction in room temperature helps your body “burn calories and dispose of excess blood sugar”—thanks to your body’s brown fat.
Brown fat generates heat by helping you burn calories, which is why it’s being explored as a tool for weight loss, healthy metabolism, and more. The more brown fat you have, the better, as there are direct correlations between your level of activated brown fat and optimal metabolic markers.
People with more brown fat have a faster metabolism, better blood sugar control, and higher insulin sensitivity when exposed to cold temperatures. As you age, the activity of your brown fat decreases, which helps explain why there’s a tendency to gain weight with age. However, exercise may help prevent this.
Unfortunately, other evidence suggests that the optimal temperature for activating brown fat may NOT be the best for a sound sleep.
Shivering Activates Brown Fat—But Hampers Your Sleep
According to Dr. Celi, there is evidence pointing to shivering as the mechanism that triggers brown fat to produce heat and burn calories. Like exercise, shivering triggers your muscles to secrete a hormone that stimulates energy use in your brown fat cells.
But shivering is not conducive to sleeping soundly, as evidenced by research from Dr. Eus van Someren and colleagues at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.
While a dip in core temperature before bedtime flips on your “time for bed” switches, Someren’s research indicates that deep, restful slumber requires you to keep your skin temperature “perfectly comfortable.” So, if you’re thinking about chilling yourself during the night to boost your health and metabolism, it simply won’t work—you’ll end up sleep deprived.
Sleeping in the Buff May Be Beneficial
Professor Russell Foster of the University of Oxford recommends ditching your pajamas to improve your slumber—which is actually done by one-third of all adults in the US, according to one study If you’re wearing lots of bedclothes, it may be more difficult for your body to regulate its temperature.
With or without pajamas, it’s important to make sure your hands and feet are warm because if they aren’t, the blood vessels near your skin constrict and reduce blood flow in an effort to prevent heat from escaping, and this prevents your core temperature from dropping easily. Conversely, warming your skin causes your peripheral blood vessels to widen, promoting heat loss. To summarize, if you want to fall asleep easily, you’ll need to be warm enough that your blood vessels won’t constrict, but not so hot that your body can’t cool down.
The Health Risks of Poor Quality Sleep
Millions of American adults are sleeping less than six hours per night, which recent studies have linked to chronic inflammation, higher stress, and increased mortality from all causes. Getting just one hour less sleep per night may raise your risk of several chronic diseases. Interrupted or impaired sleep can lead to the following:
Increase your risk of heart disease Harm your brain by causing brain shrinkage, halting new cell production, and interfering with brain detoxification, contributing to the buildup of amyloid-beta plaques (which are found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s) Impair your ability to lose excess pounds or maintain your ideal weight. This is likely the effect of altered metabolism, because when you’re sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals satiety) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight Accelerate tumor growth, primarily due to disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer types, and triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). The hormone also interferes with the new blood supply tumors require for their rapid growth (angiogenesis) Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training) Resistant hypertension, the type that does not respond to typical drug-based treatments Increase your risk of dying from any cause
A Simple Trick to Help You Spend More Time in Deep Sleep
A study published in the journal Neuron found that playing “pink noise” sounds that were synchronized to the subject’s brain waves when the subject approached deep sleep allowed them to remain in deep sleep longer than when the sound was not played. The participants’ memory also showed dramatic improvement after sleeping with “pink noise.”
Participants were shown 120 pairs of words before going to bed and tested the following morning to see how many they could remember. After sound stimulation, the subjects improved their memory retention by nearly 60 percent, recalling an average of 22 sets of words compared to 13 when the sound was not played. The key, according to the authors, is that the frequency of the sound was synched to the subject’s brain waves. This amplified the size of the brain waves during deep sleep, and these slower brain waves are associated with information processing and memory formation. You can find special “pink noise” apps to play in your bedroom, or you can simply turn on a fan to get this benefit.
Electronic Gadgets and Other Sources of Sleep Disturbance
If your sleep is being interrupted, the first step is to determine the cause. Most sleep disruptions are related to environmental or emotional factors, such as:
- Eating the worst foods for sleep too close to bedtime, such as a heavy meal, unhealthy fats, spicy foods, coffee, or dark chocolate
- Pets in your bed or bedroom
- Drinking alcohol in the evening
- Use of your computer, tablet, cell phone, or television
How to Get Uninterrupted, Restorative Sleep
Click here to read Dr. Mercola’s complete article
- Studies show the best temperature for sleeping is rather cool, but optimal sleep may be more complicated than simply turning down your thermostat
- If you can’t “shut your brain off” at night, your brain temperature is likely elevated; cooling down your brain has positive effects on sleep
- People with more brown fat have faster metabolism, better blood sugar control, and higher insulin sensitivity when exposed to cold temperatures
Click here to read Dr. Mercola’s complete article
Photo Credit: Flickr/Pinguino K https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinguino/2715508281/
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