Does the Body Burn Calories As We Sleep?

While most of us focus on burning more calories while we are awake, how many are aware of the body’s ability to burn calories while we sleep? There is scientific evidence to show that the brain uses nearly 20 percent of the calories we consume and this process is constant throughout the night. Essentially, the better we sleep the more calories we burn.

Body Burns Calories as We Sleep

Each one of us weighs different, consumes varying amounts of calories and sleeps differently too — while you may be able to function well on four to five hours of sleep, your spouse may need the whole eight hours.

Hence, it is not easy to find the accurate number of calories each of us may burn while we sleep, but scientists do have a formula for it, in case you are interested. On average, a person burns 0.42 calories for every pound they weigh for every hour they sleep.

So, multiplying 0.42 by your weight and the number of hours you sleep should give you the number of calories burned during the night. But this does not mean that you can burn more calories by staying in bed longer. Studies show that people who stay in bed longer tend to be overweight and lethargic.

Studies show that our bodies burn the maximum amount of calories when we are in deep sleep or the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. In this stage the body processes glucose at a higher level, thus increasing the number of calories burned.

Why do you think the brain is so active during the night? These calories are consumed to maintain the body’s basic functions like breathing, the pumping of the heart and maintaining optimum body temperature through the night.

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

Just as there is enough evidence to show how the body burns calories as we sleep, there is also proof to show how the body reacts when it is sleep deprived. A study conducted in 2012 concluded that men who got less than five hours of sleep every night were at a higher risk of being obese than those who slept longer.

The food we eat in the evenings also plays a role in the quality of sleep. It undergoes the same digestion process as our morning meals, but when we overload the body in the night by eating late or consuming large portions, the digestion can slow down, cause heartburn and even cause you to stay up longer.

It has also been noticed that lack of sleep can make you wake up feeling hungrier and lead to cravings, especially for foods rich in fat.

How to maintain a healthy sleep pattern to burn maximum calories at night?

  • Eat lighter meals and eat as early as possible.
  • Have a set pattern — go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Experts recommend sleeping naked as it helps regulate body temperature and increase the number of calories burned. If you prefer keeping your clothes on, try to keep the room cooler for the same effect.
  • Stop alcohol consumption up to three hours before bedtime. While alcohol may induce sleep, it can hamper REM sleep.
  • Make power naps a practice, if you feel drowsy during the day.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise just before bedtime as it can energize the body and delay sleep. You could, however, consider meditation or yoga to help the body relax and sleep better.

If you already follow a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise, make sure you get optimum sleep to burn maximum calories through the night too.

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Shiffer, E. (2018, September 24). How Many Calories Do You Burn While You Sleep? Retrieved from

Pantazi, C. (2017, March 17). Your body burns calories while you sleep – here’s how to burn the most. Retrieved from

HealthStatus Team. (2017, January 10). HealthStatus Team. Retrieved from