How many calories do we burn when we sleep?

My sister is trying to tell me that we burn little, if any, calories in our sleep, because our body is sort of “shut down” so to speak, for the night, and we don’t need to continue to burn them. She claims that eating at night makes you gain more weight.

I say, yes, we may slow down at night, but we’re still burning off fuel.

Who’s right?

You’re both right. You do continue to burn calories, but it’s very little.

I tried to find a reliable cite for the number of calories burned during sleep, but almost all the sites I found were for so-called sleep diets, and so, are less than reliable. I found numbers anywhere from 60 to 100 calories per hour, which I think is reasonable.

Here’s a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator.

Just divide this amount by 24 and multiply by the number of hours you sleep to get the total number of Calories burned. has a good calculator- it even calculates sleep.

Eating before you go to bed won’t make you gain weight. It can happen but it depends on how much you have eaten during the day and what/how much you eat before bed. I personally am munching some almonds and will have a nice glass of milk before bed. The protein from the almonds and milk will help repair muscle tissue, the calcium will help repair bones, and the fatty acids will go to the cells. (Almonds are high in fats, but mostly Omega type fats, which are very very good for you) Combined they will take around 2-3 hours to digest, perhaps longer, and will extend the amount if time before my body enteres starvation mode.