When it comes to weight loss, having a good sleep is of great importance. A number of studies indicate that both, total sleep time, and sleep quality predict fat mass loss in overweight and obese adults.
Research indicates that an increase by 1 hour in sleep duration is associated with a decrease of 1.5 lbs in fat mass.
For people involved in a weight loss program, it has been found that those who sleep less that 6 – 8 hours per day are less likely to achieve their weight loss objectives.
This shows that your sleeping habits can affect the success of your weight management strategy and should be taken into account when one decides to start a diet or weight control plan.
How should your sleep stages look for optimal weight loss
A good night’s sleep is when you fall asleep quite easily, do not fully wake up during the night, do not wake up too early, and feel refreshed in the morning. This is the kind of sleep that will be more useful for losing weight.
Sleep cycles typically repeat every 90 to 110 minutes. Each cycle is made up of a sequence of different sleep stages. There are two main types of sleep:
- REM sleep
- non-REM sleep
REM is short for “rapid eye movement.” This name is given because of the quick eye movements that can be observed during deep sleep. When children and adults are in deep sleep their eyes move back and forth quickly but their eyelids continue being closed. We only dream during the REM phases. So a healthy sleep cycle should look something like this
Left vs right sleeping positions
A study examined the association between sleeping positions, dream
variables and sleep quality. It found interestingly that nightmares were more common in left-side sleepers. The study also suggested that
positive emotions such as happiness, joy, excitement, safety and love were common among right-side sleepers. In short, right-side sleepers had better subjective sleep quality than left-side sleepers.
This means that ultimately, the best sleeping position for weight loss will be the one that gives you an optimal sleep cycle. This may be different for every person depending on your curent health and condition. For example, people with back problems might find their sleep better when sleeping on their side, while people suffering from heartburn might find it uncomfortable.
Here are some advantages an disdvantages of the most common sleep positions:
Supine positions, Soldier and starfish for weight loss
The supine position means lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up. In contast to the prone position, which is face down.
Sleeping supine, whether in the soldier or starfish position may not be best for you if you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea and are trying to lose weight. However, there are proven health advantages to sleeping on your back. Your head, neck, and spine are in a neutral position so you’re less likely to experience neck pain. Sleeping on your back with your head slightly elevated with a small pillow is considered the best sleeping position if you are afected by heartburn.
Prone positions, sleeping on your stomach.
Sleeping facing down may help ease certain conditions such as snoring. But sleeping in this position may not be the most suitable for encouraging rest and ultimately weight loss. Your neck and spine are not in a neutral posture when you sleep on your abdomen. This may affect qur sleep quality by triggering neck and back pain. Stomach sleeping can put stress on nerves and cause numbness, tingling, and nerve pain.
The Fetal and spoon Position.
More than 40% of people sleep using a particular side position by curling up on their sides with their knees bent.
Some scientific studies indicate that more women than men sleep in this position. As previously mentioned, side sleeping has been scientifically proven to support healthy REM and NREM sleep cycles, therefore, contributing better to weight management.
There isn’t much research on the subject of sleeping positions and weight loss. However, it is fairly well documented that good sleeping habits will contribute to weight loss gains.
It is also well documented, that certain sleeping positions will promote healthier sleep cycles, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take them into account as part of your weight management program.
If we were to take a pick on the best sleeping position for weight loss for the average healthy person, I would put my bets on side sleeping, particularly on the left side. Ultimately, you know your own body, so choose the sleeping position that gives you more rest since it will be the one that contributes the most for your weight loss plans.