Fitness + Well-being

Not getting enough sleep can have this disastrous social effect

Try not to lose sleep over this.

People who don’t get enough sleep look uglier, according to a new study. And a lack of sleep can make you so unappealing that your friends might stop hanging out with you.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute asked 25 volunteers to photograph themselves, make-up free, after two full nights’ sleep. The following week, the volunteers photographed themselves after having two consecutive nights with only four hours of sleep.

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Next, the photographs were shown to 122 participants who rated the images on attractiveness, trustworthiness, health and sleepiness. Researchers also asked, “How much would you like to socialize with this person in the picture?”

The more tired the volunteer looked, the less attractive they were rated. When asked the latter question, the participants said they were less willing to hang out with the sleepy looking photographs. The results were published May 17 in The Royal Society Open Science.

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“An unhealthy-looking face, whether due to sleep deprivation or otherwise, might activate disease-avoiding mechanisms in others,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Essentially, looking super tired sets off an evolutionary red flag in the brain of your friends or partner. This flag says you look gross and sick and they should eject you from the tribe.

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“If someone looks less healthy, you are more likely to withdraw from them,” Tina Sundelin, the study’s lead researcher, told The Guardian. “If you can see someone hasn’t slept, you’ll have a good idea that they might not be the best person to be around.”

So rest up, or live a lonely life with nothing but your baggy-eyed, sleep-deprived face.

First published on the New York Post