How to lose weight? Part V- Lose weight by sleeping

Key takeaways:

  • sleep is a key element for enhanced circulation and metabolism;
  • general exercise speeds up circulation and boost metabolism;
  • you can actually lose weight by sleeping!

I teach my coaching clients to lose weight by sleeping. Yes, you heard me: sleeping. How wonderful!

I’m pretty sure you enjoy sleep in whenever you can. We all feel better when we have enough sleep and sleep well. I wrote about sleeping quality last year and focused on the ‘power’ of self-healing of human body by sleeping. Clearly, most of us spent about 1/3 of our lives on bed, sleeping. The ‘effects’ of good sleep (or being lack of it) affects the remaining 2/3 of our lives greatly. Why shouldn’t we put some serious attention on sleeping?

Sleep can help you reduce weight, assuming that you don’t overeat and don’t eat within two hours before going to bed. The key for reducing weight by sleeping is to improve sleep quality, not necessarily sleep quantity. If you can sleep for longer, then it’s even better! The two biggest enemies of poor sleep quality are eating late-night meals (or snacks) before bed time, and watching TV before bed time. In fact, most people have the two activities at the same time!

I lent my Fitbit to my son last week. This was his sleep. OMG….. so good!

The ‘theory’ of losing weight by sleeping actually comes from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I’m a big fan of TCM and I found that some ancient theories of TCM are quite helpful for our modern lives. The theory of TCM can be dated a few thousand years back in the ancient China when all the medicines were from the great nature (herbal and animal) and human beings were seen as a part of the nature, just like other animals. In essence, TCM puts great emphasis on self-healing by balancing energy in and out of a body, and circulation of this energy in a body. Self-healing is a natural power of human body, and circulation is the ‘flowing energy’ that runs a human body.

In the theory of TCM, sleep plays a major role in balancing our energy. Human bodies would restore energy during sleep, and after we wake up, we start consuming this energy store. From this view, sleeping time is the time that a human body ‘corrects’ the imbalance that has occurred during day time. Overweight was not a big issue in the ancient times as foods were not abundant and people had way more physical activities including walking long distances to trade or hunt.

Sufficient sleep and good quality sleep puts our body back to a ‘flow’ state that allows all functions to work well. From the theory of TCM, this is reflected on good circulation, good appetite and good physical strength with smooth toileting (so importantly, wastes after digestion are removed smoothly and quickly). For ladies, you will find that you look pretty without make-ups and you skin is just as beautiful and smooth as you were 18 years old. For men, you will feel full of energy and can take on the whole world. When was the last time you felt this way?

One of my bad-sleeping nights, a.k.a. broken sleep. I wish I had the sleep my son had.

This theory, from the view of western medicine is quite ‘vague’ but it has been proved that this ancient theory has its foundation for health. So, how exactly can we sleep to lose weight? Just follow these points:

  • No eating within two hours of bed time: if you go to bed by 10pm, then don’t eat anything after 8pm. Ideally, go to bed 3 hrs after eating. This allows your stomach plenty of time to rest while you sleep.
  • No watching TV within 30mins of bed time: brain stimulation before bed time causes poor sleep quality.
  • Quiet time routines: try to shut down before going to bed, ideally within 30 mins of bed time. The way you ‘shut down’ your body may be different from mine. The rule of thumb is to do something quiet such as meditation, reading or simply listening to soothing music (not rock music!). This is the most important job to do in order to sleep well.
  • Catch up sleep whenever you can: find a day to sleep in as much as you can. This is a great way to reduce your sleeping debt. Don’t see this as a waste of time. Try it once on a Sunday morning and you will thank me! If you have a teenager at home, then you will see he/she does exactly this. I used to do this when I was in High School.
  • Try to sleep as much as you could on weekdays: watching that one more hour of TV is not going to improve your life, but sleeping that one more hour will! Poor sleep hinters body functions and circulation. This further affects your work performance and mood. So, break the vicious cycle by sleeping more tonight.
We should all sleep like a baby.

My clients usually had doubt about this when I taught them how to lose weight by sleeping. The fact is that most clients saw effects in two weeks starting with having more energy during the day, sharper focus at work and a happy mood! Quickly, most clients found that they gradually lost weight and they became more aware of their body functions and status (good or bad). Once they knew their body better, then they knew what their body needed. Together with being aware of proper food intakes (not overeating) and sufficient exercises, weight loss was just a simple task. In fact, not a task at all for my clients because they were always losing weight.

Interestingly, this method only works to an extent and won’t help someone to lose a big amount of weight. The good thing about this method is that you will be more aware of the balance your body needs from eating, working, exercises and sleeping. When your body is in a ‘flow state’, it prompts you to eat foods, enjoy foods more, and then you can eat whatever you like but not as much as you like, though.

With enough exercise, then you can eat whatever you want! Isn’t this wonderful?

Remember the fundamental rule of physics in weight loss: whatever goes in must either come out or stay in your body. You either control input or you can increase output by burning more, then you can eat whatever you want! Which option do you want to take? I choose increasing my exercises and eat whatever I want! Isn’t this nice?

Dr. C. Richard Wu @

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