Why Sleeping in Cooler Temperatures Could Help You Lose Weight

You probably consider getting a good night's sleep and taking steps to give your metabolism a boost two separate health goals—but a recent study says they may not always have to be tackled independently. The research, published in the journal Diabetes, found that by controlling the temperature of the room you sleep in at night, you may be able to increase your levels of brown fat (often called "good fat," it burns calories to generate heat)—and that may in turn increase your metabolism and improve your overall health.

Researchers already know that brown fat helps protect rodents from diet-induced obesity and glucose intolerance and that human adults with a higher proportion of brown fat tend to be younger and slimmer and have normal blood-sugar levels.

For this recent study, researchers had five young men spend four months sleeping in climate-controlled rooms at the National Institute of Health Clinical Center (they all wore hospital clothes and slept under only sheets). The rooms were kept at 75.2 degrees the first month, 66.2 degrees the second month, 75.2 degrees again the third month, and 80.6 degrees the fourth month. Throughout the study, the participants were told to go about their normal business during the day and then report back to sleep at night, and their diets were regulated.

MORE: How to Burn More Calories While You Sleep

During the cold month, participants' brown fat increased, as did insulin sensitivity (this lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes). During the warm month, these results reversed. Therefore, "harnessing [brown adipose tissue] by simple adjustment of ambient temperature could be a new strategy in the combat against obesity, diabetes, and related disorders," wrote the study authors. 

Of course, it's worth mentioning that these benefits were associated with cooler temperatures but not necessarily caused by them. However, another study, published yesterday and also in the journal Diabetes, also suggests that activating brown fat boosts insulin sensitivity, as well as whole-body glucose disposal. This is a neat area of research, and we think we'll be seeing more related studies in the future.

That said, there are certainly other ways to burn more calories and improve your overall health—ones that are better proven and great for your body for a variety of reasons. For example, learn how to boost your metabolism all day long and how to cut your diabetes risk.

MORE: Sane Ways to Burn Calories That Don't Involve Freezing Your Butt Off


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