Sleep to lose Weight/Fat

Updated 4/2/2021

Is your sleep too good?

Are you sick of waking up each morning too well rested?

I haven’t heard that too often over the past 26-years.

In fact, it’s usually the opposite.

“Dr. Derek, I feel chronically tired.  I feel run down.  I feel like I’m not getting restful sleep.”

And so on….

You may have heard that good sleep can improve body composition and help people lose weight.

And the natural conclusion is:

That sounds understandable.  If I’m sleeping I’m not eating.

While that is true, the answer is even better than that.

Improved sleep helps to improve:

  1. Metabolism – to burn more calories
  2. Decision making and willpower – to make better nutritional choices
  3. Decreases cravings – optimal hormone levels to decrease risk of craving poor choices

I want to just focus on Metabolism – the amount of calories burn per day.

And also how you can increase it, at any age.

But first, let’s take a look at Sleep Stages.


We all want improved sleep quality:

This is generally described as:

  • Shorter Fall Asleep Time
  • Fewer Wake Cycles
  • More Deep Sleep (Stages 3, 4, and REM)
  • Less Light Sleep
  • Consistency

All of this will lead to more time spent per night in Deep Sleep.

Once an adult is in their 40s and 50s, Deep Sleep can naturally decease by 200 to 300% according to the NIH.

This is bad for many reasons.

Growth hormone is necessary for:

  • Repair of skeletal muscle
  • Repair of cardiac/pulmonary muscle (heart and lungs)
  • Repair of pre-frontal lobe responsible for decision making


Is the speed or rate in which a person used food for fuel.

During a consultation, many people say to me:

I feel like I am just not burning as many calories as I did when I was younger.  I just look at a piece of cake and I gain weight.

Sound familiar?

As we age, we naturally lose (atrophy) muscle.

However, muscle tissue is the place where calories are burned.

In fact, it is estimated that one pound of muscle = burns between 35-50 calories per day.


Why age matters:

Most people who come to see me for help are between the ages of 45 to 75.

And most of them want to lose weight, drop body fat, decrease or eliminate meds and improve the quality of their lives.

But they are frustrated and confused.

They probably are eating better than they ever have in their lives and many of them are exercising as well.

However, they are not burning as many calories per hour, day or week as they had when they were younger because of muscle atrophy.

You can see from the graph below that there is at least a 30-percent natural drop off in muscle tissue by age 50.

This will yield a considerably slower metabolism over time.

This term is also called, Creeping Obesity.

The loss of muscle tissue (Sarcopenia) that happens with age that is accompanied by the decrease in metabolism and increase in body fat.


There is good-news:

It is possible to improve muscle tissue, hence metabolism with the right kind of exercise training.

Strength training is weight training that can be done using: dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, kettle-bells, body weight, resistance machines and more.

Strength training is the best way to improve decreasing muscle tissue and the benefits for most people can be seen in frequency as little as three workouts per week with the right kind of program according the the NIH.

As you can see from the graph below, with consistent lifestyle based resistance training exercise, muscle tissue is 20-percent higher in individuals who exercise throughout their entire life.

Furthermore, this increased muscle will = more metabolism = more calories burned = more weight/fat loss.


Now, back to sleep:

When individuals of any age exercise with weight training, the body naturally places you in a deeper level of sleep in order to repair.

This increased time of deep sleep will yield more growth hormone GH release.

In addition to all the benefits of GH mentioned earlier, it also will help you improve your metabolism according to the NIH.

Furthermore, studies are finding that lack of consistent sleep, which is usually the result of:

  • Inconsistent bed times
  • Poor food/alcohol consumption (high carbs/sugars/alcohols)
  • Lack of physical activity, especially strength training

Will decrease muscle tissue and increase muscle wasting.

This type of lifestyle will also increase body fat as well as other health related issues.

Exercise by itself is not enough. 

The right diet and right sleep are also needed to pull this off otherwise you’ll still have issues improving your metabolism and dropping fat.

Here’s what I recommend for most people for a faster metabolism, less body fat, weight loss and improved health:

  • The Right Exercise
    • Dedicate three days per week to improve your muscle tissue and your metabolism
    • Strength training is a priority and needs to be designed based upon skeletal issues
    • Cardio should also be done, but for most people I’d recommend non-impact to save the joints
  • The Right Diet 
    • It’s not about calories, it’s about insulin
    • The best way to keep insulin low is to eat foods that are low glycemic
      • Lean proteins – chicken, fish, eggs, beef, pork etc
      • Good fats – olive oil, macadamia nut oil, fish oil, olives, avocados etc
      • Low glycemic carbs – most veggies, certain fruits and some legumes
  • Accountability
    • Have a coach, therapist, trainer – hold you accountable to your goals and provide structure
    • Track your progress – body fat percentage and pounds of fat mass work the best and are the most important
    • Learn from your successes and failures with monthly review appointments with a coach, teacher and doctor.

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