There’s no arguing that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the US. A simple walk down any American street reveals that as many as 75 percent of the people are overweight. That’s 2 out of every 3 people! And what’s worse, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 33 percent of these people are obese (1).
What is not as apparent, however, is that insomnia and other sleep disturbances have also reached epidemic levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders (2). That’s about 1 in 3 American adults that are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis (3). This, coincidently, is about the same percentage of people who suffer from obesity. Is this just a coincidence? Researchers say no.
The Sleep/Weight Connection
According to the CDC, there has been a significant increase in hospital discharges for a number of obesity-related medical conditions. Discharges for sleep apnea alone have increased 436 percent! And that’s just in children.
An estimated 18 million American adults have sleep apnea, a condition often associated with excess weight. And the reason is simple according to researchers. As you gain weight, especially in your trunk and neck area, the risk of sleep-disordered breathing increases because of compromised respiratory function, which makes it harder to breathe.
It’s A Two-Way-Street
The problem is that obesity not only contributes to sleep problems like sleep apnea, but sleep problems can also contribute to obesity. It’s is vicious cycle. And scientists at the University of Chicago have further shown that when you build up a “sleep debt” over a matter of days, it can actually impair your metabolism and disrupt your hormone levels (4). This, in turn, affects your ability to process glucose (sugar) in your blood, which can eventually lead to diabetes among other serious health issues (5).
Another study shows that short sleepers (people who get less than 6 hours a night) experience hormonal changes such increased cortisol levels that can affect their future body weight and impair long-term health. In fact, these people need to make 30 percent more insulin than normal sleepers according to the study.
Elevated blood sugar levels ultimately lead to insulin overproduction and eventually insulin resistance, which is the starting point of obesity in most cases. We also know that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol increases visceral fat. Researchers call this whole phenomenon “the royal route to obesity.” (6)
What if there was a simple way to fight both your insomnia and help you lose weight, all while you sleep? Well, there is. These 4 nighttime fat-burning drinks contain a number of natural ingredients that target your metabolism, help you relax and even keep you feeling full so you stop snacking before bed—the number one behavior guaranteed to pack on the pounds.
1. Apple Psyllium Drink
- 1 apple
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tsp pure, 100 percent psyllium husk/powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Cut up the apple with the skin on and blend it with water until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a large cup and stir in the psyllium husk and cinnamon powder.
- Drink immediately because the psyllium will thicken.
- Drink another glass of plain water as soon as you finish the apple drink.
How it helps:
Apple—Apple pectin limits the absorption of fat from your guts and makes it easier for your body to break down fats into fatty acids (7). Antioxidants like quercetin in apples can help reduce oxidative damage and associated inflammation (8). A 2003 study also shows that eating three apples daily contributes to weight loss (9).
Psyllium—Psyllium husk is an edible soluble fiber and prebiotic. Once ingested, psyllium expands to form a gel-like mass by drawing water in from your colon. It helps to move waste out of your colon more quickly and efficiently. Apart from the known positive effects on your heart and cholesterol levels, studies also show psyllium improves glucose levels in diabetics (10).
NOTE: Psyllium husk can reduce the absorption of some medications and nutrients in foods, so only drink this within 2 hours of taking any medications or meals.
2. Cherry Aloe Vera Drink
- 2-4 oz. tart cherry juice
- 1 oz. aloe vera juice
- cold water
- Mix the cherry juice and aloe vera together in an 8 oz. glass
- Add the cold water
- Mix well and drink
How it helps:
Tart cherry juice—Studies show that tart cherry juice produces significant reductions in insomnia severity (13). Another study even shows that it can increase melatonin levels, which improves your sleep duration and quality (14).
Aloe vera gel—Aloe leaves secrete a powerful clear gel filled with 75 potentially active constituents, including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, and amino acids (15). This ancient plant also contains a variety of antioxidants as well as 6 antiseptic agents that inhibit bacteria growth that can cause infections and inflammation (16).
NOTE: Aloe is a known laxative so be careful how much you drink.
3. Cucumber Lemon Ginger Drink
- 5-10 slices of cucumber with skin (or a full cucumber if you like a thick drink)
- 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- 6 oz. water
- 1 lemon freshly squeezed
- A pinch ofHimalayan pink salt (optional)
- Blend cucumber and grated ginger with water until smooth.
- Stir in the lemon juice and the salt
- Mix well and drink
How it helps:
Cucumber—this low-calorie vegetable is amazingly high in soluble fiber, which binds with the fatty acids that result when you eat fats. It then helps to remove them, which reduces the total fat intake from your digestive tract. Cucumbers are also a powerful detoxifier for your liver and a natural diuretic, which means they can help your body produce more urine to carry out toxins and wastes.
Ginger—while ginger is most widely known for its powerful digestive properties, numerous studies show it is effective for diabetes and glucose regulation (20). It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can even help suppress cortisol levels and burn fat according to studies (21, 22).
Lemon juice—Lemons are amazing detoxifiers. They help alkalinize your body, which also helps kill bacteria and viruses, as well as benefit your bone health and reduce muscle wasting, decrease your chances of hypertension and strokes, improve your cardiovascular health, and even improve your memory (23).
Although there are not many studies on lemon’s ability to help weight loss, one animal study does show it can significantly reduce weight gain from a high-fat diet (24).
4. Warm Milk And Nutmeg Drink
- 1 cup full-fat organic cow’s milk or non-dairy milk
- 1-2 tsp honey
- A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (not more than 1/8 of a teaspoon)
- Heat the milk and then cool until tepid.
- Mix in the honey and grated nutmeg
- Drink immediately.
How it helps:
Milk— despite common conventional views that whole milk is fattening, a 2013 review published in the European Journal of Nutrition reports that 11 out of 16 studies prove it is not. In fact, regular consumption of milk may actually help prevent weight gain (25). Milk also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep (26).
Honey— Honey can promote relaxation and help ease you into a restful sleep. The natural sugar in honey raises your insulin slightly and allows tryptophan to enter your brain more easily, which is why taking a spoonful of honey before bed can help you get a restful sleep (27).
Nutmeg—nutmeg is a popular home remedy for insomnia, especially in warm milk. Nutmeg is rich in magnesium, an essential mineral your body needs to reduce nerve tension. It also stimulates the release of serotonin, which changes to melatonin in your brain to induce sleep.
Studies also show nutmeg actually contains trace elements of narcotics that can help release various neurotransmitters that induce relaxation and sleep. Nutmeg also has a known thermogenic effect that essentially fires up your metabolism to burn extra fat while you sleep (28).