How Many Calories Do You Burn When You Sleep?

Published on March 11, 2020
woman laying on bed

Do you know that your brain and cells are at work even if you are at rest? That means that while you are sleeping, you burn a significant amount of calories. You may be surprised that your body still uses energy to maintain bodily functions and sustain life. 

In this article, we discuss how calories are burned, what affects calories to burn, how much calories are burned when sleeping, and tips to have a good night’s sleep.

How Are Calories Burned?

It can be difficult to stick to an exercise plan and a certain diet. And the most effective means of losing weight is to burn calories. Here are just a few ways on how calories are burned:

  • Slow down when eating

Your brain cannot immediately tell when you are already full because it takes time for it to process. If you want to lose weight, you may need to slow down when eating your food. The more you thoroughly chew your food, the less likely you will consume food. That means that the calories you consume are fewer while increasing your satiety (1)

Your pace to finish your meals can also affect your weight. A study has shown that people who eat faster are most likely to increase weight compared to those who eat slower. Fast eaters are also found to be obese (2)

  • Use small plates

Do you know that most of the plates today are made to be larger compared to those which are made decades ago? Using larger plates can make you put and eat more foods which would most likely contribute to weight gain. 

Smaller plates can make portions look larger. It means that it can help you eat fewer foods. On the other hand, bigger plates make portions look smaller. It means that it can make you eat more foods (3). But if you want to take advantage of portion sizes, it is advisable to use bigger plates on healthy foods and smaller plates on unhealthy foods. 

  • Eat protein-rich food

Protein is responsible for making you feel fuller as it dramatically affects your appetite. If you eat protein-rich food, you will most likely reduce hunger, increase satiety levels, and eat fewer calories (4). This is because protein influences various hormones which play a role in fullness and hunger, including GLP-1 and ghrelin (5)

You can switch your meals to protein-rich food such as eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, seeds, nuts, beans, legumes, and many more. A study shows that people who eat protein-rich foods during breakfast eat fewer meals for the rest of the day (6)

  • Keep unhealthy foods out of reach

If you store unhealthy foods at home, you will most likely be tempted to eat them. Eating unhealthy foods are linked to weight gain. This is because unhealthy foods can increase your cravings and hunger, which makes you want to eat more (7).

A study shows that making unhealthy foods more visible at home will make you weigh more (8). But if you keep healthy foods more visible in the house and store unhealthy foods in cupboards or closets, you will be attracted to eat healthy foods when you are hungry.  

  • Drink water regularly

Even if your aim is not to lose weight, drinking water regularly is a must. But if you want to limit your food intake, you can drink water to help you eat less. Drinking water, especially before meals, can make you lose weight because water can lessen calorie consumption and reduce hunger (9)

A recent study shows that about 44 percent of your weight will be lost if you drink water before meals. The effect is even greater if you replace sweetened-beverages like juice or soda with water (10)

  • Get a good sleep and avoid stress

If you want to be healthy, you should be aware of stress and sleep. Both of these factors are responsible for your weight and appetite. Sleep can affect hormones, including ghrelin and leptin. These hormones regulate your appetite. Your cortisol level is also elevated if you are stressed (11)

Fluctuating hormones can increase your cravings and hunger. This will lead you to consume unhealthy foods, which can lead to high-calorie consumption. Aside from that, stress and lack of sleep can increase your risk of various diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes (12)

What Affects Calories to Burn?

The calories you burn may depend on various factors. Some factors may influence one but not the other. Here are just a few factors affecting calorie burn (13):

  • Age: The number of muscles in your body tends to decrease as you age. More of your weight is also contributed by fats. That is why, as you get older, the calories you burn slows down, which means the fewer calories you burn every day. 
  • Sex: Men are composed of more muscles and fewer body fats compared to women of the same weight and age. That only means that men are most likely to burn more calories compared to women. 
  • Body size and composition: People with more muscles tend to burn more calories. Larger people also burn more calories even if at rest. 
  • Daily activity: People who move more burn more calories. For instance, moving furniture can make you burn about 381 calories. The mere packing or unpacking of boxes can make you burn about 222 calories (14)
  • Other factors: Pregnant women burn more calories. Breastfeeding mothers also burn extra calories. 

How Many Calories Are Burned When Sleeping?

You may not be aware of this, but your body is still active even if you are sleeping. While you are sleeping, your body repairs cells and promotes cell growth. Your brain is also working on getting rid of useless information that you have gathered throughout the day. 

The calories you burn while at rest may depend on the duration of your sleep, your body temperature, and your body weight. On average, you can lose up to .42 calories every hour per body weight. For instance, you can burn around 520 calories if you weigh 155 pounds and sleep for 8 hours. This amount of calories burned is just the same when you jog for 1 hour (15)

Another example, if you weigh 125 pounds, you will most likely burn 38 calories when sleeping. Although this might not be many calories at first glance, multiplying it to the duration of your sleep, say for 7 to 9 hours, can make you burn up to 266 to 342 calories a day (16)

If you weigh more, the amount of calories you burn is higher. As you observed above, the calories burned by a person who weighs 155 pounds is 520 as compared to a person who weighs 125 pounds, which is only up to 342 calories. 

The amount of calories you burn depends upon your metabolism. Metabolism is the conversion of the food you eat into energy for you to utilize it in your daily activities. Do you know that breathing, running, and circulation blood also require calories? 

On the other hand, the number of calories you burn while at rest, including sitting and sleeping, can be measured by your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is influenced by your age, gender, height, weight, ethnicity, race, hormone levels, muscle-to-fat ratio, levels of physical activity, diet, amount of sleep, quality of sleep, pregnancy, lactation, health conditions, and general health (17)

Tips to Have a Good Night Sleep

If you have a hard time getting good sleep, you are not alone. In reality, about two-thirds of people in the US do not get the recommended hours of sleep. Remember that you may need to have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. 

Sleep has various roles in your mental health, physical health, safety, quality of life, and your entire well-being. On the other hand, a sleeping deficiency is linked to depression, risk-taking behavior, and an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. These are just a few health conditions that take more than 800 lives a year (18)

  • Have a sleep schedule

You should make a sleep schedule that is to wake up and sleep at the same time every day. Your body has an internal clock that is on a 24-hour loop. This internal clock is called the circadian rhythm, which could regulate your wake and sleep cycle. 

Your internal clock works properly if you have regular sleep habits. If your sleeping time is disrupted, then this can affect your focus and concentration. A study has shown that if you have healthy sleep habits, you will most likely feel happy, healthy, and calm throughout the week. On the other hand, irregular sleep can affect daily performance (19)

  • Expose to daylight

To delay your internal clocks by about 2 hours, you may need to expose yourself to electrical lighting. A recent study has shown that spending time outdoors, especially in the sunlight, can help reset your body clock and resolve your sleeping problems (20)

Sunlight can help regulate your sleep patterns. As humans, we tend to sleep when it is dark, such as when it is night and wake up when there is light, such as in the morning. If you expose yourself to sunlight, the nerves from your retina to the hypothalamus are stimulated. Perhaps, a breakfast near the window or outside your house or workspace can influence your light exposure. 

  • Decrease exposure to blue light

Although blue light can be beneficial for your sleep, it can also promote harm to your sleep, especially if this light comes from LED-based devices. The largest source of blue light is sunlight. It helps boosts alertness and tells you when to sleep. 

But if you expose yourself to blue light at night, such as if you use your digital tablet or smartphone or watch TV at night, it will most likely affect your sleep. A study has shown that blue light from digital devices can increase the risk of sleep problems (21).  

  • Be aware of your diet and physical activities

Your sleep may be affected by what you eat and drink, as well as the level of your physical activity. A study has shown that the quality of sleep may be improved by engaging in 150 minutes of physical activities per week (22).

 Meals high in protein and low in saturated fat can help with your sleep. In contrast, eating foods that are high in saturated fats can disrupt your sleep and even cause sleep problems (23). You should also avoid drinking a cup of coffee 6 hours before you sleep. 


There are many ways of how calories are burned. The calories your burn may also depend on various factors such as age, sex, body size and composition, daily activity, and many more. And one of the ways of burning calories is to have a good sleep. 

You can burn up to 520 calories if you weigh 155 pounds. On the other hand, you can burn up to 342 calories if you weigh 125 pounds. This only shows that the number of calories your burn is higher if you weigh more. 

Well, getting good sleep may be hard, noting that each of us is required to have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Lack of sleep can cause depression, risk-taking behavior, and an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, much worse death. So it is important to learn the various ways on how to get quality sleep


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