Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Health Care | By Jan Bell

Lack of sleep makes you less attractive, study finds

Lack of sleep makes you less attractive, study finds

Researchers found that lack of sleep can make you appear less attractive to others.

"People seem to be able to tell when someone needs more sleep, and are more inclined to leave them alone in that case", the authors wrote in the new work. The following week, the volunteers photographed themselves after having two consecutive nights with only four hours of sleep. The students had their photos taken twice: after two nights of normal sleep and after two nights of restricted sleep. The adults were asked to rate how attractive, healthy, or trustworthy they perceived the person in each photograph to be, as well as whether they would like to socialize with that person. Researchers also asked, "How much would you like to socialize with this person in the picture?"

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The research also found that people might avoid contact with "sleepy-looking" individuals, as a strategy to reduce health risks and poor interactions. The strangers also said they would be less willing to socialise with the exhausted students, who they also perceived to be less healthy, Royal Society Open Science journal reports. Basically, when you see someone who looks sick, the last thing you want to do is hang out with them.

"Blood flow to the skin is strongly promoted by sleep and this vasodilation may be a way for the body to facilitate the distribution of endogenous defense agents".

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While further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of sleep deprivation on facial appearance, the researchers believe that their findings further highlight the importance of a good night's sleep.

"We're still not sure about this", said Tina Sundelin, a post-doctoral student in psychology at both the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and New York University who led the work. "This is important because the average amount of sleep that Americans obtain per night has been dramatically declining over the past few decades", she says.

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"For some participants, it was very clear which condition the photo belonged to, and for others, there was virtually no difference between the two", Sundelin said. If you're struggling to get enough sleep, she recommends stopping work on your phone or computer an hour before bed, keeping your bedroom just for sleeping, and trying to have regular sleep hours.

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