Often, burning calories is associated with strenuous exercise. But did you know that your body is engineered to burn calories continuously? Yup, even when you’re sleeping or napping. This is credited to the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), a metric that shows how many calories you burn when resting.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate covers the calories you need to breathe, circulate and keep your organ functions going. This is even when you’re inactive. Consequently, calories burned during sleep or naps are crucial to your BMR.
Sleep Stages and Calorie Burn
The different stages of sleep burn varying amounts of calories. The stage that burns the most energy is known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. It's during this phase that your heart rate goes up, and brain activity is similar to how it is during the day. These lead to an elevated metabolism.
In contrast, when you’re in the deep sleep stage, your heart rate, respiration, body temperature and brain activity are at a minimum. This is when your metabolism is lowest.
Sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can interfere with your sleep stages and hinder calorie burning. (That said, it's important to speak to a doctor if you’re dealing with underlying sleep disorders to get treatment.)
The Role of Sleep Quality in Calorie Burn
The amount of zzzs you get is important, but so is your sleep quality when it comes to calorie burn. Good sleep quality means you cycle through all sleep stages. And spend enough time in the REM sleep stage to up the number of calories you burn.
Prioritizing your sleep hygiene can significantly boost sleep quality. This means reducing your light exposure before hitting the sack. (We mean gadgets, too!) It also means steering clear of caffeine and nicotine before bedtime. And keeping your naps to early afternoon versus later in the day.
Understanding Calories and How They're Burned
So, does napping burn calories? Yes, it does, but not as directly as you might think. Before we get into that, let’s first take a close look at what a calorie is. Put simply, think of a calorie as an energy unit. It's like gasoline, which your car needs to run. That’s how essential it is for our bodies.
And just how are these calories burned? The phrase “burning calories” means the process your body goes through to transform stored energy into something usable. Every action you take, whether it's breathing, digesting grub, moving around or sleeping, burns calories.
Burning Calories While Sleeping: The Science
Okay, so let’s dig into the science of calorie burning while sleeping. Even when you're inactive, your body needs energy for metabolic processes like breathing, blood circulation and body temperature regulation.
As we mentioned earlier, how many calories your system needs to carry this out is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). And this is while you’re in a state of rest.
It’s true that when you sleep, your body is at rest. But this doesn’t mean it’s completely shut down. Your brain is still active, dreaming and cycling through the different sleep stages.
So, if you burn calories while you sleep, it means you expend them when you’re napping, too.
Understanding BMR and Its Factors
As you may know by now, BMR plays a pivotal role in calories burned while taking a nap. And there are multiple factors that influence it:
Height and Weight – The larger the body, the more calories it needs to function.
Fitness – Those who are more fit and active have a higher BMR. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat.
Gender – Men have a higher BMR in general. They usually have more muscle mass.
Age – Metabolism slows as you age. The body has a harder time burning calories.
Diet – A poor diet can throw your metabolism out of whack. A balanced one keeps it stable.
Sleep Quality – Poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation can negatively impact metabolism. Sleep deprivation increases your stress levels, which can lead to an unhealthy diet.
Hormones – Medical Conditions that affect the hormones can influence BMR. People with hypothyroidism usually have a low BMR, while those with hyperthyroidism have a higher BMR.
Calculating Your BMR
Advanced tools like calorimeters are needed for exact BMR calculations. But you can get a ballpark figure by using formulas such as the Harris-Benedict equation.
This particular formula takes into account weight, height, age and sex. Here’s how it works, according to Healthline(1):
BMR = 66 + (6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) – (6.76 x age in years)
BMR = 655.1 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) – (4.7 x age in years)
For a rough calculation of the calories burned per hour of sleep, take the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and divide it by 24 (the total hours in a day). And then multiply by 0.85 to adjust for the lower metabolic activity while sleeping.
Calorie Burn Rate During Napping
The number of calories you burn while snoozing is determined by several factors like body weight, metabolic rate and the length of the nap. Generally speaking, people tend to burn somewhere from 19 to 26 calories for every half hour they spend asleep.
Here's a quick overview of how much calories different individuals burn during sleep, according to Harvard Health Publishing(2):
A person who weighs 125 lbs – 19 calories per half-hour
Someone who weighs 155 lbs – 22 calories per half-hour
A person weighing 185 lbs – 26 calories per half-hour
The heavier a body weighs, the higher the number of calories burned during any form of activity, even while napping. Nonetheless, these values may differ based on individual differences in Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
You may be wondering how to maximize calorie burn during naps. Before we get into that, let’s be clear that snoozing isn’t a weight loss strategy. But there are ways to optimize snoozing for calorie burn.
One is to nap in a cool room. Your body burns more calories to maintain its temperature.
Another is to time your naps. Avoid snoozing too late in the day as it might interfere with your sleep at night. In general, the ideal nap length is 20 to 30 minutes. Any longer and you’ll wake up groggy and disoriented. And make sure to do it as early in the afternoon as possible.
You need to elevate your metabolism if you want to burn more calories. Learn how in the next section.
Napping’s Effect on Metabolism
Regular 20 to 30-minute power naps have an indirect effect on your metabolism. They give you more energy, regulate hormones and lessen unhealthy food cravings. Also, they can give you a mood boost and motivate you to exercise.
All of these combined can help increase metabolic rate and thus burn more calories.
Here’s how to increase your metabolism:
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule – Hitting the sack and waking up at the same time helps regulate your body's internal clock and metabolism.
Get regular exercise – It will increase your muscle mass, leading to a higher BMR and calorie burn during sleep.
Eat healthy and at the right time – Studies show eating later at night may lead to weight gain. It can also boost insulin and cholesterol levels and adversely affect fat metabolism, according to Penn Medicine(3).
Avoid skipping out on sleep – If you’re consistently sleep-deprived, you may gain weight and have a slower metabolism.
Be cautious when it comes to supplement use – There are indeed supplements that claim to boost your metabolism. But these may have unsafe ingredients. Always consult your health provider before using these.
Ensure your nap environment is conducive to sleep – This means snoozing in a cool, quiet, and dark room. Using the right sleep products can improve your sleep quality. (More on these in the next section.)
Benefits of Napping Beyond Calorie Burning
Yes, napping burns calories indirectly but that’s not all it does. The benefits of napping cover your physical, mental and even emotional well-being.
Here are some advantages of napping:
Boosts the immune system to help you fight off illness and infection. As you snooze, your body produces cytokines, proteins that kickstart your immune response.
Helps lower your stress levels when you’re sleep-deprived
It enhances your ability to learn and retain information
It helps lift your mood and reduces anxiety.
It increases alertness and helps you focus more.
It boosts your creativity.
Yes, napping burns calories but not in large amounts. Even then, the overall health benefits make it worthwhile.
Sleep Accessories to Optimize Your Nap
There are times when it’s hard to take a refreshing nap, especially when you’re at work or traveling. That’s why we’ve put together a list of sleep accessories that’ll help you out.
#1 Nap Pillows for Comfort Wherever You Are
Nap pillows are great for taking power snoozes on the go or while at work. And honestly, most workplaces don’t offer a designated nap area (And we think they should!).
Napping upright while traveling isn’t the most comfy or effective way to snooze. So whether you’re on a train or plane and even in your car, a nap pillow is an extremely useful and effective sleep accessory.
Manta Nap Arc
Like its name suggests this nap pillow has a unique arc design. It was made for snoozing on your office desk. Apart from supporting your neck and head, it also puts zero pressure on your arms.
It’s made from comfy microfleece and is 100% machine-washable.
It has a side pocket that fits small things like your earplugs and phone.
It packs flat and comes with a travel pouch so you can take it anywhere.
This nap pillow has 4 configurations:
The Cradle – The ends of the pillow rest on your shoulders and hug your head when you lean back.
The Nod – Goes on your front so you can lean your chin and prevent your head from tilting forward.
The Lock – Hugs your neck from the back and closes in the front, so you can rest your head.
The Hug – Hugs your neck from the front for adequate support as your head leans forward.
Reviews for Manta Travel Pillow:
Travel Pillow for the Win!
"If you fly more than once per year - this is a MUST BUY. This pillow is extremely versatile and easy to use. I love that you can inflate and collapse it easily on board. The pillow is velvety soft and stays inflated for the entire flight. Pair this with a Manta Sleep Mask and it's lights out! I have rarely been able to sleep on a flight and if I use this pillow and my mask - I will instantly fall asleep. I wake up with no soreness in my neck - which is amazing. We own two and the only reason we don't own three is because they sold out! Cannot recommend this pillow enough. If you are on the fence, just buy it. You will not regret it!"
— Shannon O.
Best Travel Pillow EVER
"I have used this pillow for multiple road trips, long and short airline flights and even at work for a nap on my lunch break. It is by far the comfiest most compact neck pillow I have used (and I’ve used A LOT). The other inflatable pillows that I’ve purchased have sprung leaks the second or third time of use, the non-inflatable ones never have enough pressure to hold my chin up and keep my neck from falling into a position that hurts to sleep in. This pillow is extremely versatile, and even my boyfriend, who is anti-neck pillow, wanted one for himself after using mine (and my Manta sleep mask) on a road trip. LOVE THIS!!!"
— Michelle M.
Sleep Glorious Sleep
"I originally purchased and used this pillow a couple of years ago for its intended purpose as a travel pillow. I have spinal issues which affect my back and neck. I also sit at work at least 10 hours a day. My neck issues flared up last year. My only cc comfort is my Manta travel pillow. I can position my neck and get a good night's sleep. This order is for a second pillow for every day use. I recommend this to all of my family and friends. Ordering another one for my weekend trips to keep in my travel bag."
— Tracey W.
"This pillow + manta sleep mask + ear plugs = the best plane sleep ever. It’s nice how you can deflate it to your comfort level unlike regular neck pillows that are not customizable at all."
#2 A 100% Blackout Sleep Mask
Apart from its irritating glare when you’re trying to nap, light affects sleep more than you might think.
Seeing light basically tells your brain it's time to be awake and alert. Darkness, on the other hand, sends a signal to your body to wind down and get ready for a snooze. Oh, and it also promotes the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
That’s why sleep masks exist. But not all were made equal. They need to block out light 100% to be completely effective. Not to mention comfy and adjustable, too.
Why not consider one of ours?
Manta Sleep Mask
Apart from providing 100% blackout, Manta Sleep Mask was designed for any sleep position. It’s super comfy and 100% machine-washable.
The head strap is made from cozy and breathable materials.
It’s infinitely adjustable and secures around the head with a micro hook and loop closure.
Unlike typical sleep masks, it's made with triple-reinforced elastic for extra durability.
It comes with a pair of fully adjustable tapered eye cups to seal out light.
Position the eye cups anywhere within the head strap’s interior.
The convex cups ensure that you feel zero pressure on your eyes and lashes.
Reviews for Manta Sleep Mask:
Comfortable and completely light-proof
"I appreciate the fact that absolutely no light gets around these eye cups and it’s super comfortable to wear. Thanks for a great product."
— Karen G.
love the mask
"Its really nice and worth it. I work night shifts every 3 weeks and this mask saves the day (haha)! It doesn't let the light in once you adjust it to your face shape and its very comfy. You can even open your eyes in it and there is no pressure on your eyelids/lashes. I bought one for my boyfriend too cause he doesn't have curtains in his room and he sleeps better now that the sun doesn't wake him up early in the morning. We're very satisfied :)"
Best sleep mask ever!!
"I am a light sleeper and wake many times each night. Since I got your Manta sleep mask I sleep longer and deeper! I put it on at bed time and it blocks out all of the distracting lights, giving me a great nights sleep. It’s also great when I have a weird sleep schedule and have to sleep when it is light outside! Love this mask! Would recommend this mask highly!!"
— Corrine J.
best sleep mask ever.
"i’ve had a couple sleep masks prior to purchasing the manta but this one far exceeds any other. it’s perfectly comfortable and the blackout it provides is exactly what i wanted. i love the adjustment and it feels so soft to touch & doesn’t get caught in my hair which is also a huge plus for me. overall amazing i use it everyday i am very pleased."
— Areeb A.
Manta PRO Sleep Mask
Manta PRO Sleep Mask is perfect for your 20- to 30-minute naps. We designed it for side sleepers but it also works well with other positions. Breathability is one of the key features of this eye mask due to its advanced cooling materials.
The 3-layer head strap includes mesh and perforated foam. We also used Tactel, a material that’s twice as soft, thrice as durable and 8 times faster drying than most other fabrics.
The infinitely adjustable head strap comes with anti-slip grippy gel so the mask stays put while you snooze.
The eye cups feature a unique C-shaped design that tapers at the temples for comfy side sleeping.
The cups seal out all light as you snooze. Each has a smart air bubble that compresses and expands as you switch sides.
The eye cups attach anywhere within the strap’s interior strap for a custom fit.
Reviews for Manta PRO Sleep Mask:
Fantastic purchase! Best one on the market.
"I was skeptical of the price being so expensive. But let me just say, wow. It’s worth it. The adjustment eye pieces to sculpt to your face is great. The eye pieces themselves allow you to open your eyes and not only see pure black. But blink without the annoying eye lashes brushing up against the mask. Also the tapered ends for side sleepers is an absolute must! Breathable too so you don’t get the hot feeling. Just love it."
— Nathan C.
Best Sleep Mask EVER
"Genuinely enjoyed this mask. I've purchased a few different styles off amazon, but this one takes it to the next level! From the comfort around the eyes, to the complete blockout. I don't sweat while wearing and it doesn't but me while I sleep. Highly recommend it!"
— Santos S.
"I have a narrow face and my eyes are a bit closer together than is typical. I'm also a really light side sleeper, sensitive to tags, weird pressure, light etc. This mask is fantastic for me. It adjusts every way it could and blocks all the light. I can put it on outside in my hammock and nap there in the middle of the day, and no light comes through. Well done team."
— Frith B.
"Great mask for side sleepers as it is designed for comfort and gives complete darkness. I find myself being able to sleep through the night with no tossing and turning, Highly recommend. Fast shipping and great customer service."
— Bette G.
#3 Ergonomic Earplugs to Reduce Disruptive Noise
Noisy surroundings can make it hard to nap. As we mentioned earlier, a quiet environment is best for snoozing. An easy solution is to use earplugs. They reduce background noise for a restorative nap.
Use them in different situations: while operating machinery, live concerts and of course, napping or sleeping.
They block out up to 32 decibels of noise.
They’re made of slow-release foam so they’re extra comfy.
They have a bell-shape design that’s ideal for your ear canals.
Mold them with your fingers to get a personal fit.
Reviews for Manta Earplugs:
"The earplugs work great! Very effective and very soothing."
— Devin N.
"Comfy and fit well. They don’t completely block out sound but enough that I can sleep with snoring partner next to me ;) Nice bright color if you lose one too!"
— Allison D.
"Since I’ve been using your earplugs, I’ve been sleeping so much better!!"
"These earplugs are made of soft foam so they don't cause any discomfort and pain when wearing them."
Conclusion: Does napping burn calories?
So, does napping burn calories? Yes, it does. But you won't burn as many as you would in a high-intensity workout. The amount of calories burned during a snooze depends on your BMR, weight, and the length and quality of your nap.
And while it may not play a direct role in shedding pounds, it can help boost your metabolic rate. And it does so by upping your energy levels, balancing hormones and keeping food cravings at bay.
Napping still contributes to your daily energy expenditure. And more than that, napping has many other health benefits. So, go ahead and take that power nap. It's good for you in more ways than one.
(1) “How Many Calories Do You Burn While You’re Asleep?” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/calories-burned-sleeping. Accessed 18 August 2023.
(2) “Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights” Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights. Accessed 30 August 2023.
(3) “Timing Meals Later at Night Can Cause Weight Gain and Impair Fat Metabolism” Penn Medicine, www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2017/june/timing-meals-later-at-night-can-cause-weight-gain-and-impair-fat-metabolism. Accessed 30 August 2023.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website or provided through our blog, e-mails, or programs is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your healthcare professionals.