Did you know that your body continues to burn energy as you sleep or rest? How many calories you burn while at rest is what can be defined as your basal metabolic rate. And revving up your resting metabolism doesn’t depend only on what you do during the daytime. These 3 tweaks to your nightly routine could be just the change you need to help boost your metabolism and even drop any lingering pounds.
1. Sleep For At Least 7 Hours
Sleep regulates the body’s metabolic hormones, which means it directly influences your metabolism and your weight. Studies have shown that short sleep duration is closely linked to higher body mass index (BMI). One study found that with less sleep, the body’s levels of ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, increased. In addition, levels of leptin, an energy-regulating hormone that helps lower appetite, decreased. So if you are not sleeping enough for a long period of time, you will feel hungrier during the day and have a larger appetite. This may play a major part in obesity.1 Setting yourself up for a good night’s rest can help kick-start your metabolism and lead to weight loss.
- When should you sleep? As you grow older, you should sleep as early as you can, so that you don’t sneak out to snack, but at a fixed time every night.
- How long should you sleep? An adult should sleep at least 7 hours at a stretch every night, while teenagers should sleep for 9 hours.
Sleep for at least 7 hours every night. Blast the AC or sleep sans clothes for better sleep.
- How can you fall asleep faster and sleep better? By eating the right foods, keeping your body temperature low, whether by blasting the air conditioner or sleeping in the buff, and staying away from electronic devices. A study found that healthy test subjects who slept in a colder room gained a metabolic advantage over time.2 So when you sleep in your birthday suit, your body responds to the cold by producing more brown fat to burn more calories and produce heat.
2. Have The Right Foods
Dine On Cottage Cheese And Turkey
A good night’s rest can be easier said than done, but what you eat and drink can help dramatically. A smart dinnertime choice to promote sleep? Foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan – cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, and turkey. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep, and has been found to help people fall asleep faster. As little as 1 g tryptophan can improve sleep quality.3
Eat a light dinner of proteins and food rich in tryptophan.
Eat high-protein foods like lean chicken and eggs, digesting which uses up more energy. Also include foods like tomato juice, whole grains, and almonds that induce fat burning.
Avoid any food that can cause bloating. Excessively salty foods can put too much pressure on your kidneys, which would otherwise flush out the surplus water in your body. Normally, your body would shed excess water weight at night so you don’t wake up feeling (and looking) bloated. Stay hydrated with adequate water to aid this process.
Also remember to eat early and eat light. An 8 pm meal is ideal. And if you have trouble restricting your portion sizes, eat in a smaller container to fool your brain into eating less.
Swap Sugary Desserts With Cherries
It’s best to avoid sugary and starchy foods during and after dinner. These foods drive the body to produce insulin, a major fat-storage hormone. As insulin levels drop – as is the case when you are asleep – your body can start melting away any excess fat.
Swap cheesecakes for cherries, kiwis, and bananas, all of which have melatonin, the sleep hormone.
So what about those with a sweet tooth? Try cherries for their many benefits. Rich in antioxidants, these delicious fruits help restore muscular function, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also contain tryptophan and melatonin, the sleep hormone.4 Your other options are kiwis and bananas.
Drink A Casein Shake Instead Of Caffeine
Consuming a casein-rich shake before bedtime can help increase your metabolism. Casein is the relatively less soluble portion of milk protein and is sold as a supplement or as a powder much like whey protein. An estimated 80% of cow’s milk protein is casein. Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are other good sources of casein.
Protein digestion requires more calories. So a protein drink would help you lose weight while asleep.
One study found that casein helps burn fat while supplying the protein your body needs to promote muscle health and strength. Improved muscle tone will help you burn extra calories even in sleep.5
Avoid stimulants like caffeine found in coffee, tea, or soda, for at least 2 hours before bedtime. So while the antioxidant-rich green tea has also been shown to increase metabolism, as it contains some caffeine, drink it at least a couple of hours before bed.
3. Lower Your Stress Levels
If you are not sleeping enough, the levels of your stress hormone, cortisol, will rise. This increases your cravings for fatty, carb-laden, serotonin-rich foods – in other words, foods that can calm down your nervous system. Unfortunately, eating these types of foods can also cause you to pack on the pounds fast. This is also connected to insulin resistance, which increases the risk for diabetes and obesity.6
Soothing music, a warm bath, gentle exercises or yoga, and meditation can all help you relax.
Set aside some time for meditation, prayer, listening to soothing music, or gentle exercise, anything that can help calm the mind and body – but stay away from any electronic devices; yes even e-readers. Electronic devices emit a blue light that hinders the release of melatonin and even affects REM sleep, the dream phase.7
Yoga asanas for stress have been found to be just as effective as other relaxation techniques. They also contributes to overall vitality.8 You can also try a good, old-fashioned warm shower or bath to allow your muscles to relax, setting the tone for a good night’s sleep.
Ayurveda And Your Night Time Routine
Ayurveda suggests putting extra care into your nighttime diet and routine. During
the evening, avoid foods that are fatty and hard to digest as well as sweets, chocolates, cold ice creams, and other frozen food. These all increase kapha in the body, causing excessive weight gain. Eat fresh or cooked vegetables, soups, legumes, and whole grains.
Ayurveda experts also recommend eating a small and light dinner since the body typically uses less energy at night. Any extra calories due to overeating will be stored in the body as fat. It’s best to eat early – aim to be sitting down for dinner by 7.30 pm.9
|↑1||Taheri, Shahrad, Ling Lin, Diane Austin, Terry Young, and Emmanuel Mignot. “Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index.” PLoS Med 1, no. 3 (2004): e62.|
|↑2||Lee, Paul, Sheila Smith, Joyce Linderman, Amber B. Courville, Robert J. Brychta, William Dieckmann, Charlotte D. Werner, Kong Y. Chen, and Francesco S. Celi. “Temperature-acclimated brown adipose tissue modulates insulin sensitivity in humans.” Diabetes (2014): DB_140513.|
|↑3||Halson, Shona L. “Nutritional interventions to enhance sleep.” Sports Science Exchange 26, no. 116 (2013): 1-5.|
|↑4||Garrido, M., A. B. Rodríguez, C. Barriga, and S. D. Paredes. “Cherry-enriched diets improve sleep from young to elderly populations.” In Handbook of nutrition, diet and sleep, pp. 426-439. Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2013.|
|↑5||Groen, Bart, B. A. R. T. Pennings, Milou Beelen, Gareth A. Wallis, Annemie P. Gijsen, J. M. Senden, and L. J. Van Loon. “Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 44, no. 8 (2012): 1560-1569.|
|↑6||Gibson, Edward Leigh. “Emotional influences on food choice: sensory, physiological and psychological pathways.” Physiology & behavior 89, no. 1 (2006): 53-61.|
|↑7||Do Electronic Devices Affect Sleep?. National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine.|
|↑8||Smith, Caroline, Heather Hancock, Jane Blake-Mortimer, and Kerena Eckert. “A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety.” Complementary therapies in medicine 15, no. 2 (2007): 77-83.|
|↑9||Gerson, Scott. The Ayurvedic Guide to Diet & Weight Loss: The Sattva Program. Lotus Press, 2002.|