Quick—what’s the best way to lose weight? If you said diet and exercise, you’re on the right track. But as it turns out, there’s a super effective method for burning fat, and you’re already doing it every day. In fact, the key to burning fat is so easy that you could do it in your sleep (literally!)
“One of the biggest mistakes that most people make [when trying to lose weight] is not sleeping enough,” Shawn Arent, director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University, told Business Insider.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, your body repairs itself by releasing growth hormones while you sleep. Those hormones stimulate muscle and protein synthesis, as well as a fat breakdown process called lipolysis.
Since growth hormones tend to peak at night, not getting a good night’s sleep cuts that essential process short. Research shows that only getting four or five hours of sleep a night can lead to obesity down the road.
The solution? Ideally, you should sleep seven to nine hours per night to keep your body burning fat while you snooze.
“Seven to nine hours seems to be a pretty consistent time frame for when we get the best repair and where we have the least relationship to obesity,” Arent said. “In other words, it’s kind of that nice window where you don’t oversleep, you don’t under sleep, and there’s enough repair that takes place.”
The National Sleep Foundation generally recommends that adults sleep for seven to nine hours every night, in order to wake up refreshed and alert for the day ahead.