Numerous studies show that if you give people the same diet and make the follow the same exercise regime, the ones who are sleep-deprived (sleeping 5.5 hours or less a day) lose about 55% less body fat compared to the ones who sleep at least 8 hours a day. Imagine this – you can actually burn more fat just by sleeping more. How is that possible at all? Read on to find out.
There are at least three factors that facilitate the fat burning process in good sleepers.
First of all, it is well known that you produce the greatest amount of human growth hormone at night, but only if you are asleep (and moreover, primarily if you are asleep between 10am and 2am!). This hormone, notorious for its antianging function, not only helps you build muscle tissue but it also protects your muscles. And, as may have already heard, the more muscle the body carries, the more fat it burns.
Secondly, when you are sleep-deprived (and applies especially if you are awake between 10pm and 2am), your body produces excess amounts of cortisol, at the wrong time. Cortisol is a stress hormone and it triggers a process that burns muscle tissue, slows down metabolism and encourages fat storage. In other words, cortisol sets off the breakdown of your proteins and their subsequent conversion into fat. So you really want to be sleeping at night to avoid excess cortisol production at the wrong time. (NB: You do need cortisol, of course, but early in the morning so you can have energy to move around).
And last but not least, when you sleep well at night, your body produces melatonin which, as indicated in a recent study published in The Journal of Pineal Research, is a powerful fat burner. Melatonin is another hormone, and it practically increases your brown adipose tissue (i.e. good fat) which functions similar to your muscle tissue in that it burns white adipose tissue (i.e. bad fat). In effect, melatonin helps increase your metabolic rate. In addition, melatonin has been recognized as a powerful anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent. But you can only produce it at night and only if you are asleep!
So if you want to look good and feel good, hop in bed early and treat yourself to a sound sleep. Stay up late and you will gradually turn into a fat ball.