Getting enough sleep might be the single most important thing you can do for your health – and your looks – that really doesn’t take too much effort.
It’s long been known that sleep deprivation affects performance, but it can also affect how people perceive you too, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Stockholm found people who’d slept badly over a couple of nights were considered “significantly” less attractive, and were less liked by others.
The study asked 25 university students to get a good nights’ sleep for two nights in a row, then sleep only four hours a night for two nights the week after.
The psychologists took photos of the students after both the good and bad nights’ sleep – make-up free of course so nothing was hidden.
The photos were then shown to 122 strangers who were asked to rate the people in terms of attractiveness, sleepiness, trustworthiness, health, and friendliness.
The couple of nights’ bad sleep didn’t affect trustworthiness, but raters said they didn’t feel as inclined to socialise with the sleep-deprived because they considered them “significantly” less attractive and less healthy.
The research suggests people who look tired can be perceived as sick and because we’re evolved to avoid disease, our instinct is to keep our distance.
Lead researcher John Axelsson said making you sure you get enough sleep is important but if you’ve had a bad night, it’s not the end of the world.
“Sleep loss has an impact on how other people judge you, so prioritising sleep is not a bad idea. But one shouldn’t be too concerned. The effects are not large. It’s not that no-one wants to be with you when you’ve had too little sleep.”