Sleep is a crucial part of our lives; unfortunately it is usually the first thing we compromise when our time is stretched thin. Have you ever noticed the differences in the way people say “you look refreshed” and “you look tired”? In the first instance, it's meant as a compliment and people tend to be friendlier and more cheerful around you. In the latter case, people aren't exactly eager to keep company with you—and there's a reason why. According to a new study, sleep deprivation can affect the way you look and the way others behave towards you.
Your Face Says It All...Literally
A recent study done on the facial effects of sleep deprivation took 10 subjects and photographed them on two separate occasions; first after eight hours of normal sleep and then again after 31 hours of sleep deprivation. The photographs were taken in a laboratory at the same time of day; 2:30 p.m. after both occasions. Forty other participants were then brought in to rate the 20 photographs based on fatigue, sadness, and 10 other facial cues. Unsurprisingly the results showed that sleep deprivation resulted in hanging eyelids, redder eyes, swollen eyes, and darker circles beneath the eyes. It was also associated with paler skin, more fine lines and wrinkles, and more droopy corners around the mouth. In short, lack of sleep made people look sadder, unhealthy, and less attractive compared to when they had normal amounts of sleep. The interesting side-effect of looking sleep deprived was the way it affected the behavior of others towards the person who looked sleep deprived. Facial perception involves a complex neural network and is said to be one of the most developed visual perception skills in humans. Apparently, how tired you look influences the way people interpret traits such as trustworthiness, aggressiveness, and competence. "Since faces contain a lot of information on which humans base their interactions with each other, how fatigued a person appears may affect how others behave toward them," said Tina Sundelin, lead author of the study and doctoral student. "This is relevant not only for private social interactions, but also official ones such as with health care professionals and in public safety."
Healthy Sleep as a Problem Solver
According to the National Sleep Foundation about two-thirds (63%) of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Healthy adults need an average of 7–8 hours of sleep a night. Instead of watching television or surfing the internet before bedtime try reading, listening to soft music, or drinking a warm decaffeinated beverage to help you relax and fall asleep easier. Healthy sleep is also a creature of habit. Going to bed early, or forming a consistent routine leading up to your bedtime can help the body induce sleep easier. As the study above shows, getting a healthy amount of sleep can have a large positive impact not only on your daily health and energy, but it can also influence your interaction with others. They don't call it beauty sleep for no reason, so support your health and make sure you get plenty of those important z's.