The Power of Sleep to Boost Metabolism
Katelyn Sander

The Power of Sleep to Boost Metabolism

Living Well...together, while apart

As Canadians we have a perverse tendency to wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honour. Unfortunately, for many, this badge is often accompanied with some pretty negative side effects when it comes to our health. 

Interestingly, globally there is evidence to support that during COVID, people are sleeping more minutes and hours during the work week. Although, due to unusually – and understandably – higher levels of stress, sleep quality has reportedly declined.

As we head back into the “normal” world, could we continue to embrace the positive habit of more sleep? Let’s see if we can motivate you in that direction.

While a century ago we slept for 9 hours a night, the average reported sleep these days is 6.8 hours. Almost 25% less. And around 30% of adults report sleeping less than 6.

Sure, different bodies need different amounts of sleep. In fact, elephants require only 3 hours of sleep, where, if you have a cat, you’ve likely noticed they can spend up to 18 hours snoozing. Some of these differences are due to metabolism as smaller animals tend to have higher metabolic rates and higher brain and body temperatures and – as a consequence – need more sleep.

What exactly do we mean by metabolism? Essentially, it’s the amount of energy the body needs to keep functioning. It is a series of chemical processes on a cellular level that convert the calories you eat into fuel to keep you alive and support movement including exercise.

The body’s major organs – the brain, liver, kidneys, and heart – account for about half of the energy burned at rest. The digestive system, fat, and especially the muscles account for the rest.

Most of the energy you burn is from your resting metabolism. This is why everything we do to impact this basal rate are important lifestyle considerations. Adding muscle can increase our metabolism, aging decreases it, dieting decreases it… as does too little sleep in a few interesting ways.

A review in the International Journal of Endocrinology, makes a number of pretty compelling arguments: That not getting enough sleep may contribute to the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes either directly by impacting glucose regulation or indirectly by impacting appetite.

Glucose levels in the blood are kept within a tight range to avoid hypoglycemia and subsequent impairment of the central nervous system. When we eat, glucose ultimately floods our veins and blood sugars rise. Our pancreas secretes insulin which moves the glucose (sugar) into our cells to use for energy. Too little sleep decreases insulin sensitivity. So, it’s tougher to shuttle that sugar into our cells. Too little sleep also increases cortisol which increases glucose in the blood. All this happens with only one night of too little sleep. And while the body can reset and recover quickly if you give it optimal rest the next night, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with chronically high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and risk of Type 2 Diabetes. 

Sleep also plays a vital role in regulating hormone levels including ghrelin – which increases appetite – and leptin – which makes us feel full. As sleep deprivation increases the former and decreases the latter, we are left feeling hungry. Studies confirm that too little sleep increases likelihood of overeating due to appetite and more hours available to eat, as well as increasing cravings for high fat and sugar foods.

We hope this pandemic has helped us all reflect on how precious our physical health is. And yes, exercise is such a rich part of that. And so, it turns out, is sleep.

  • Try to wake at the same time every morning. This will help sleep pressure build effectively throughout the day so you are ready for bed – craving your sleep – at about the same time every night.
  • On the weekends try to avoid sleeping in. Take small naps instead. And – if you do sleep in – try to limit it to 45 minutes.
  • Avoid eating heavy, rich food 3+ hours before sleep
  • And for goodness sake, try to make sleep a priority. Maybe even wear your good night’s sleep as a new badge of honour.

You may not quite need 9 hours. But you certainly need more than 5. Unless of course, you’re an elephant?


Today’s Inspiration

“AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH! Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?” ― Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams

Today’s LIVE Workouts

Happy Monday! Ready to get moving to start your week off right? We’ve got TWO classes on the schedule for today!


Join Robert S today for a Total Body Conditioning workout! Challenge your cardio and strengthen your muscles from head to toe with this incredibly effective no-nonsense bodyweight training.

No equipment needed today.

Join Robert at 12:00pm (30 minutes) from your own living room.

Click here to join the workout.

Meeting ID: 864 5295 2847
Password: 991724


Join Robert Y today for our new Yoga Fusion workout! A combination of hatha, ashtanga, and kudalini yoga techniques. This class will engage your muscles, open your joints, calm your mind, and lift your spirits. (All levels)

No equipment needed today.

Join Robert at 5:15pm (45 minutes) from your own living room.

Click here to join the workout.

Meeting ID: 899 4248 0739
Password: 624126


Click here to view our weekly schedule.

If you have questions about our virtual live workouts, please reach out to Lauren.

Today’s Trainer Moves

Of course, sleep isn’t the only way to boost your metabolism. Weight training – especially challenging our legs as our lower limbs are built from so many large, active muscles – is an amazing way of building and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Not only is there an increase in caloric expenditure after your strength workouts – carrying around more lean tissue burns more calories!

Check out Lauren Neal’s amazing suggestions for challenging lower body exercises:

Single Leg Deadlift with a Twist


Hamstring Slider

For questions about today’s Trainer Moves, you can connect directly with Lauren here.

Today’s Bite

Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas

These beef enchiladas are made extra tasty with a juicy filling made with beef, refried beans, and a homemade enchilada spice mix. The refried beans are excellent here – fills it out, makes the filling juicy, and adds flavour! Recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.

Get the full recipe here. And check out more phenomenal recipes like this in our Spice of Life Recipe Book.


For the Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp each onion & garlic powder (Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp each cumin powder, paprika, and dried oregano
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, spiciness)

For the Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour, plain/all purpose
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock/broth, low sodium
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) tomato passata OR 1 can (8 oz) canned tomato sauce (Note 2)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

For the Beef Filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 lb (500g) ground beef (mince)
  • 1 14oz can refried beans
  • 1 14oz can black beans, drained

For the Enchiladas

  • 8 tortillas (or burrito wraps)
  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) grated melting cheese, or more
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional, garnish)


  • Mix together Spice Mix ingredients. Set aside.

For the Enchilada Sauce

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and mix to combine into a paste. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, whisk straight away then it will turn into a thick smooth paste quite quickly.
  • Add remaining chicken broth, passata, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of Spice Mix. Whisk.
  • Increase heat slightly to medium high. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking regularly, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of thick syrup. Remove from stove.

For the Beef Filling

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add beef and cook for 2 minutes, breaking it up as you go. Add remaining Spice Mix. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until completely brown.
  • Add refried beans, black beans, about 1/4 cup of Enchilada Sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix (Note 3) and cook for 2 minutes then remove from stove.

For the Enchiladas

  • Smear a bit of Sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (stops sliding).
  • Place filling on the lower third of a tortilla. Roll up then place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining Filling & tortillas.
  • Pour Sauce over the enchiladas, top with cheese, bake for 10 minutes covered (Note 4), then 10 minutes uncovered. Serve hot!


  1. You can just use all onion or garlic powder, if you only have one of them. Fresh garlic is not the same, however, as a last resort substitution, you can use 3 garlic cloves, minced, instead of onion & garlic powder. Sauté in the heated oil before proceeding with the recipe.
  2. Tomato passata is pureed plain tomatoes that is not seasoned. Unlike crushed tomatoes, it is thick and smooth, like a thick tomato soup. You can make your own simply by using a blender to puree canned tomatoes.
  3. The refried beans should loosen as it heats and stir through easily. If not, add a splash of water.
  4. To bake covered, I just pop a baking tray on top on the baking dish. Otherwise, cover with foil.
  5. To make ahead, roll up enchiladas and place in casserole dish (can smear with sauce underneath). Keep sauce separate and top just before baking.


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