Getting a poor night’s sleep doesn’t just make you cranky – it can also make you fat. Research shows logging fewer than eight hours a night increases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which negatively affects the microbes in your gut, slowing your metabolism.
Fortunately, you can reverse course and keep your metabolism cranking overnight with these simple steps.
1. Lift weights at night
After work, head straight from your desk to the dumbbell rack and you can boost your metabolic rate for 16 hours, according to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition.
No gym membership? No problem. Cranking out five sets of 10 burpees or ploughing through 100 push-ups and 100 squats in your spare room will ignite your fat-burning furnace until morning.
2. Upgrade your protein shake
Feed your hungry muscles by trading whey for casein in your post-workout shake. This slow-release protein is gradually digested over eight hours and keeps your metabolic fires burning through the night.
Dutch researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre also say that casein enhances protein synthesis, which helps you cut an extra 146 kilojoules a day for every half kilo of new muscle gained.
3. Freeze your butt (and gut) off
An icy shower does more than flush out lactic acid after the gym. Research in PLOS ONE finds that a 30-second freeze is all it takes to activate your body’s brown fat – which, when fired up, melts as much as an extra 1600kJ in bed.
Make sure you stick your head under the shower head: more brown fat is stored in the back of your neck and shoulders.
4. Drink a different kind of brew
The flavonoids found in green tea boost your metabolism – and if it’s your third cup of the day, you’ll burn 3.5 per cent more kilojoules overnight, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Don’t worry about caffeine content. Green tea will help keep you up for the late-night news, but not all night.
5. Sleep in a cool room
Cranking the heat up at night burns through little more than the extra cash on your power bill.
Research from the US National Institutes of Health says that turning down your thermostat to a cool 18ºC cuts seven per cent more kilojoules, as your body burns fat to maintain its core temperature.