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How Many Calories Do You Burn While You Sleep?

If you’ve made it a point to lose weight this year, that’s a great decision. Taking off extra pounds is an investment in your overall health. When you don’t carry around all that excess weight, you’ll not only feel better, but you’re reducing your risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. There are lots of ways you can make lifestyle changes that will support your weight loss journey as well, and that includes making changes to your diet as well as increasing the amount of physical activity you do. These are the tried and true cornerstones of effective weight loss over the long term.

There are lots of fad diets out there, but in order to lose weight and keep it off, you have to continue to eat healthy, get exercise, and even take helpful supplements. But did you know that you may not be limited to just doing cardio and strength training exercises to burn calories? In fact, you can even burn calories in your sleep! Want to know more? Keep reading because today we’re covering:

  • How many calories you can burn while you sleep
  • Other ways to easily burn calories while you’re awake that aren’t exercise
  • Best ways to burn more calories to lose weight

Why do you burn calories while you sleep? (and how many is normal)

How many calories do you burn while getting your 8 hours of sleep?

Our bodies continue to burn calories while we sleep through the night. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

While you may think that the only way to burn calories is by physical activity, you may be surprised to learn that you actually burn calories throughout the day and while you sleep. Sleeping does not require as much from our bodies and brains, but it is still a period of activity, and thus, calories will be burned because energy is expended. You’re actually burning calories no matter what you’re doing, so wherever you are reading this right now, you’re burning calories. This is because our bodies require us to breathe in and out, our hearts are beating, and we need to maintain our body temperatures. All of these activities require calories burned.

Sleep requires all of these functions, as well as the activity of the brain and our body to rest and repair, so you’re always going to be burning calories. The question is, how many calories do you burn while asleep? The answer to that depends on your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy your body requires to maintain basic metabolic functions that we mentioned above. Your basic metabolic rate (BMR) is based on a variety of factors such as:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Your fitness level
  • Hormones/medical conditions
  • And more

As you can see, you can only change some of these variables, which is why BMR varies from person to person. Sleep scientists have done research on a variety of people and have come to the conclusion that people burn on average around 50 calories per hour while asleep. This is a very basic number to work with since someone’s BMR could be higher or lower, causing them to burn more or less while they sleep. So if you sleep for 8 hours like the average adult should be, you can expect to burn 400 calories. 

If you would prefer to find out your personal BMR, the Sleep Foundation suggestions calculating it using these equations:

Male: BMR = 66.5 + (13.8 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)

Female: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)

This is your BMR over a 24 hour period. Divide your number by 24 to get the hourly BMR, and then multiply by 0.85 to account for your naturally lower metabolism while you sleep. The new number will be how many calories you burn per hour while asleep.

Can you increase the amount of calories you burn while you sleep?

In order to increase the amount of calories you’re burning while asleep, you’ll need to raise your BMR. In order to do so you’ll need to adopt a healthy lifestyle that involves eating a balanced diet, getting exercise on most days, and making it a point to get good sleep. Oftentimes getting enough sleep is overlooked when we’re consciously making an effort to lose weight, but it’s just as important as diet and exercise. Without good sleep, our brains and bodies cannot rest and repair themselves, and we cannot expect to function and have the energy we need without the proper sleep.

Other ways to burn calories throughout the day (without exercising)

There are ways you can increase your BMR in addition to exercising so you can burn calories while you sleep

Consider making adjustments to your daily routine to include more movement. Image courtesy of Unsplash

If you’re looking for other ways to burn calories (in addition to exercising) there are all kinds of options for you! When you make it a point and go out of your way to move your body more throughout the day, it’s a good thing and could potentially raise your BMR. With a higher BMR, you may end up burning more calories while you sleep, as well as when you’re just sitting at your desk or even on the couch. 

Lots of us have jobs that keep us at desks and sitting for a long amount of time, which causes us to naturally become more sedentary. In order to combat this, engaging in intentional movement during your awake time can only contribute to the amount of calories you’re burning throughout the daytime. And at the end of the day, those numbers can really add up! Some great ways to do this are:

  • Take the stairs. This is one of the easiest ways to get more movement in your day, and may even help you get all your steps in. If you work in an office all or part of the time, consider taking the stairs if you work on an upper floor. Work on the first floor? Not a problem, when you have a break or on your lunch, you can go up and down the steps a few times. This also applies to anywhere you might have the choice of an elevator/escalator and taking the stairs.
  • Walk further. Another easy way to get more movement in your day is to try and park further away from your destination. You can choose to leave your car at the back of the parking lot, and then walk to the store, movie theater, or restaurant where you’re headed. Then when you’re done, you still have a nice walk back to your car. If you take public transportation, you can always get off at an earlier or later stop that is not the stop you’re headed towards. Then when you jump out you’ll have additional steps to get to your original destination.

This also works great if you work on a floor with multiple bathrooms or break areas, just walk to the one that’s furthest from your desk. 

  • Fidget a little. Even small movements such as moving your leg or tapping your foot can increase the amount of calories you’re burning. Most people who fidget don’t even know they’re doing it and it’s something that they've always done. A movement as small as twirling your pen or pencil can increase your caloric output. If you’re not used to fidgeting regularly, you may have a harder time picking it up. But there are all kinds of fidget toys out there that will help you keep moving.
  • Walk faster. One easy way to increase your calories daily is by walking faster than you normally would. This could be when you choose to go out for walks, or just when you need to get from a store to your car. Increasing the speed (you don’t need to jog unless you want to!) will not only get you there quicker, but will help your body burn more energy.
  • Stand up during the day. And finally, make it a point to get up from your desk and move around throughout the day. We all get engrossed in our work, but it’s healthy to take breaks away from the screen and to change position. There are all kinds of apps that can help remind you, and you can set it for hourly or every 30 minutes if you want. Moving around from your seat will not only get more motion into your day, but it’ll prevent you from being stiff.

How many calories do you naturally burn during the day?

Just like with sleep, everyone burns different amounts of calories during the day based on their BMR, which is itself determined by age, gender, muscle to fat ratio, and height/weight. On average, you can expect to burn anywhere from 1,300 to over 2,000 calories just going about your day, depending on those variables. When you add in additional movement either from exercise or from non-exercise movement we discussed above, you can expect to expend more calories. 

Best ways to burn calories if you want to lose more weight

To lose weight, focus on staying fit

Staying active is a lifestyle change that can keep you feeling your best, but you also need to eat a balanced diet, get good sleep, and take supplements that can benefit you. Image courtesy of Unsplash

While it’s great to know your BMR so you can determine how many calories you’re burning at night, experts stress that you should focus on making sure you’re leading a healthy lifestyle. In order to do that you need to take a look at the choices you’re making throughout the day so you can burn off more calories.


Eating a balanced diet is crucial to anyone who wants to build muscle and lose weight. In order to have the energy to do that, make sure you’re getting enough protein, which is what you need to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Also, including healthy choices like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fiber, and heart-healthy fats like olive oil are a great way to make sure you’re nourishing your body with what it needs.


We can’t emphasize enough how important physical activity is to not only lose weight, but to maintain a healthy body and brain. Strength training builds muscles, which will help you burn more calories whenever you’re exercising. It’s also important to incorporate cardio as well to get your heart rate elevated.

You should consult a licensed health care professional before starting any supplement, dietary, or exercise program, especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Author: Dr. Emil Hodzovic

Holding degrees in both medicine and Sports + Exercise Science from renowned research institution Cardiff University, Dr. Emil Hodzovic has the dual distinction of being a practicing clinician and respected authority in nutrition and supplementation.

During his parallel careers as a personal trainer and professional athlete, Dr. Emil recognized a critical flaw in the supplement space: too much emphasis on appearance and performance—and zero concern for making holistic health and happiness accessible to everyone.

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