New research shows that not getting enough sleep could increase your risk of overeating and obesity. The study suggests that sleeping for less than seven hours could boost “distracted eating” and cause a larger intake of calories. Those who sleep for a shorter amount of time eat almost nine minutes per day more than those who sleep longer.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that the average adult get about seven to nine hours of sleep at night. Getting the right amount of sleep is important to function at an optimal level throughout the day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. The government agency has even declared insufficient sleep a public health epidemic.

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Your body’s internal clock and hormones -- like insulin – can be disrupted. As a result, your metabolism is thrown off balance. This can cause you to have increased levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin. It also causes you to have decreased levels of another hormone responsible for satiety and fullness called leptin. Both of these imbalance in hormones could lead to overeating and weight gain.

By not getting enough sleep, you suffer from certain side effects that can interrupt your daily routine. Lack of sleep can increase your risk for being involved in accidents by impairing your attention, alertness, concentration and memory. It can also lower libido and cause depression, premature aging and weight gain. And a prolonged sleep deficit can increase your risk for serious health problems like heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Keep your room dark. Light proof your bedroom. Put up curtains or blinds or use an eye mask to prevent too much light getting in which can cause your sleep to be disrupted. Sleeping in darkness allows our bodies to produce melatonin is an essential part of the sleeping cycle.
  • Sleep lying on your back. Lying flat on your back is the best sleep position. It can also help you avoid aches and pains. Invest in a good pillow that allows your neck to stay flat. Poor sleep posture can lead to long-term back problems which can rob you of shut eye.
  • Set your bedroom temperature. If your room it too hot or too cold, it can disrupt a good night's sleep. The optimal temperature for uninterrupted sleep is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Limit napping. Studies show that taking naps during the day can actually make people feel more tired. It can also cause you to stay up later than desired. If you must, limit napping to only about 20 minutes. 
  • Eat a healthy diet. What you eat can affect how you sleep. Aim to eat dinner at least a couple of hours before going to bed and avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar. Avoid drinking alcohol before bed as well as this can result in poor quality of sleep. 
  • Get active to get better sleep. Research shows that people who exercise are much less likely to experience problems sleeping. Aim to exercise earlier in the day or afternoon as your body temperature can take a few hours to drop back to a normal level, making it more difficult to get to sleep. 
  • Set a sleep routine. Going to bed at around the same time every night can help your body know when it is time for sleep. Try to avoid taking sleeping pills to help you fall asleep as their effects often do not last.