A third of adults get less sleep than the 7 to 9 hours a night that experts recommend. Could lack of sleep help fuel the obesity epidemic?

Researchers randomly assigned 80 people with excess weight who typically slept less than 6½ hours a night either to continue their usual sleep routine or to receive individualized counseling to reach 8½ hours of sleep a night for two weeks.

Compared with the usual-sleep group, the group that received counseling averaged 1.2 more hours of sleep per night, ate 270 fewer calories per day, and lost two pounds.

What to do

Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. There’s no guarantee that getting enough sleep can help you eat less, but too little sleep may raise your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. And drowsy driving is involved in an estimated 20 percent of fatal car crashes.