Anna Pinkney | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Science Says \'Beauty\' Sleep Is Real. Ugh, It\'s Exhausting

Science Says 'Beauty' Sleep Is Real. Ugh, It's Exhausting

The Debrief: New studies show that the amount of sleep you get effects how attractive you are

A new study into how the physical symptoms of a lack of sleep effect how we perceive each other shows that a few bad nights of sleep make you ‘significantly’ less attractive and may stop people wanting to socialise with you.

The study asked 122 people to rate pictures of students after two nights of ‘good’ sleep (7-9 hours according to this report) and two consecutive nights of 4 hours’ sleep, on qualities of attractiveness, health, sleepiness and trustworthiness, and also asked ‘how much would you like to socialise with this person?’

The results showed that the more signs of tiredness a person exhibited, the lower their attractiveness score. Additionally, people were less willing to socialise with those who looked tired and they were deemed to be ‘less trustworthy’. Beauty standards aside, the results are linked to evolution. The study, published in the Royal Open Science journal says "An unhealthy-looking face, whether due to sleep deprivation or otherwise, might activate disease-avoiding mechanisms in others."

The report does mention that missing a few hours sleep every now and then is probably not going to do too much damage to your health, even if it does have a negative impact on your social life. Discussing the report findings, lead researcher Dr Tina Sundelin added “I don’t want to worry people or make them lose sleep over these findings though”

Well, you at least have to appreciate the irony. The obsession with how much or how little sleep we’re getting is exhausting and yes, it does keep me awake at night. Admittedly, I often have a hard time sleeping, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets stressed when they can’t get to sleep and then ends up awake for even longer. Mainly because I know the next day is going to be rough, but also because I know it’s going to show. Because with all the sleep shaming going on (am I getting too much? Too little? Waking up too late? Does that mean I’m more creative or more likely to have depression?) sleep isn’t just something we’re obsessed with, it’s yet another part of our lives that is turning into a commodity.

Whilst the idea that getting more sleep makes you more attractive might sound like bad news for beauty companies, the reality is that it’s just another way to capitalise on our insecurities. The things that signify tiredness, like dark circles, puffy eyes and dull skin, don’t just miraculously go away for everyone when we get enough sleep, the number of creams and serums on the market attest to that. Whilst some of them cam help, very often there are underlying genetic causes, which make them very difficult to get rid of. There’s also been a push in the idea that it’s not enough just to get enough sleep to feel rested, in fact it almost feels lazy when you could also be using X-Y-Z-product to make you even more beautiful.

The beauty shaming that comes along side our obsession with sleep is pretty depressing; there are 83,500,000 Google results for ‘How to wake up beautiful?’, and, surprise, the answer is usually to spend more money. Whilst the headlines are often eye-roll inducing (I’m looking at you ‘How to wake up pretty-as-a-princess’) the related searches are more depressing; the top searches include are ‘how to look good when you wake up next to a guy?’ and ‘how to wake up pretty with your boyfriend’.

Sleep, apparently, is not just a time for our bodies to rest and to recover; it’s yet another time that we should be using to, essentially, become a better version of our selves. It’s a narrative that I’m guilty of buying into – there’s a £25 eye serum on my dresser that can attest to that. Whilst I’m all for anything that can save me some time in the morning, it would be nice to be able to sleep without worrying if I’m working hard enough. And if people don’t want to talk to me? Well you probably weren’t going to get a conversation before coffee anyway.

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