The body burns on average about 0.4 calories per hour per pound in body weight during sleep. Therefore, some weighing 150 pounds and sleeps 8 hours at night burns about 400 calories during sleep.
Weight regulation requires more than just eating healthy and getting enough exercise. Genetics, stress and sleep patterns can also impact weight regulation. One other thing you can control besides what you eat and how much you move your body is sleep patterns.
How much sleep you get at night can influence long term weight regulation. Some research suggests if you stay up all night you burn more calories than sleeping, but if you do that long term it can backfire and increase risk for weight gain.
When you are sleep deprived, metabolic rate, appetite regulation and calorie burn can change compared to when you’re well rested.
Compared to moving around during the day, calorie burn at night is lower, but it still accounts for some energy.
Most of the energy needed during sleep is for the brain. Your body also takes this time to repair body cells, releases hormones, etc.
Just because your body burns some calories during sleep doesn’t mean you should start sleeping in excess.
Sleep is an important component for overall health, but it should be at night not in over abundance or lacking.
What happens during sleep?
According to John Hopkins Medicine (1), sleep accounts for one fourth to one third of a human’s lifespan. Why is sleep so important? Sleep is vital for brain function. This is why you can feel foggy or off mentally when you don’t get enough sleep.
During sleep, the brain processes what you’ve learned during the day. Sleep may also allow for the removal of waste build up in brain cells. During sleep the body also renews cells and renews the immune system.
When you’re sleeping, your body uses energy to do these tasks. So, even though you’re staying relatively still, your body uses energy to renew cells and for brain function.
Why is it so important your body gets enough sleep?
Not getting adequate sleep can impact your health in many ways. How much sleep your body needs can vary, but in general most adults should aim to get between 7-9 hours every night.
Short term health effects from lack of sleep can include (2): lowered mental alertness, problems with memory, processing information, mood swings and lowered desire to move during the day. Longer term health effects could include increasing risk for high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.
Calorie burn during sleeping
How many calories you burn during sleep can vary, but a general estimate for adults is around 0.4 calories per pound body weight per hour. Therefore, some weighing 150 pounds and sleeps 8 hours at night burns about 400 calories during sleep.
This is about how much energy your body uses to do all the tasks it needs during sleeping. If someone moves more when they sleep, calorie estimate may be higher.
Metabolic rate can also vary; some people may burn more or less than this average. Remember one pound of fat is 3500 calories.
How many calories do you burn staying up all night?
Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder studied how many calories you burn if you stay up at night instead of sleeping (3).
Researchers had young adult study participants spend three days in a research chamber that was able to keep track of their calorie burn throughout the whole period. Participants slept normally the first night then stayed up for 40 hours without sleeping.
Researchers found on average, participants burned 135 more calories the night they stayed up compared to the night they slept.
Therefore, this study suggests when we stay up instead of sleep, the body does use a little more energy.
However, the energy it would be using during sleep for the brain and to repair cells isn’t happening the same.
You may be burning more calories by staying up, but this isn’t a reason to stay up at night to lose weight. In fact, research suggests insufficient sleep is associated with obesity.
Sleep and metabolism
Why is insufficient sleep associated with obesity? Researchers are still studying the exact mechanisms for how insufficient sleep can interfere with metabolism and weight gain.
However, some research suggests when there is insufficient sleep, metabolism slows, appetite regulation is altered and body movement during the day can go down.
A 2013 study (4) looked at the effects of 5 days of insufficient sleep in 16 research participants. Interestingly, insufficient sleep increased total calorie expenditure by about 5%.
However, energy intake, especially after dinner, was increased by more than the 5% increase in calorie expenditure. Researchers found insufficient sleep led to increased weight gain.
The increase in food intake during insufficient sleep is thought to be the body’s way to sustain wakefulness.
Researchers from this study and others conclude sleep plays a key role in energy metabolism.
Conclusion: sleep and calorie burn
The body burns on average about 0.4 calories per hour per pound in body weight during sleep. This energy is used for the brain, repairing cells, hormonal regulation and renewing the immune system among other body functions.
If you stay awake at night instead of sleep, research has shown you will burn more calories. However, over time insufficient sleep can interfere with metabolism and weight regulation.
Therefore, it is not recommended to stay up at night to increase calorie burn for weight loss.
Calorie intake during insufficient sleep is higher probably because the body is trying to compensate to increase alertness.
Insufficient sleep is associated with obesity. Getting enough sleep at night is needed for overall health and for weight regulation. You may not burn a lot of calories during sleep, but those calories are an important part of maintaining health.
Keep in mind increasing sleep at night from 7-9 hours a night to more than that probably won’t help with weight loss. If you do get the recommended amount of sleep at night and still feel it’s not enough, consult your healthcare team.
If you have insomnia or other health conditions that interfere with your nightly sleep, consult your healthcare team.