The study looked at the effect that sleep deprivation has on the way other people perceive your attractiveness. Study participants were asked to sit for photographs. The photos were identical, except for one thing -- some of the participants had had a full night's sleep the night before, while others had been awake for 31 hours straight.
According to Time Magazine:
"The photos were then shown to a group of 65 different people, who, knowing nothing about how tired the people in the photos were, rated their attractiveness. The observers rated the sleep-deprived as less healthy looking, less fetching and, obviously, more tired-looking."
Taking the time each and every night to get your "beauty sleep" may in fact make you more attractive. And this isn't surprising when you consider that optimal health and beauty are side effects of an overall healthy lifestyle, which must include adequate, high-quality sleep.
How Much Does Lack of Sleep Impact Your Appearance?
A good night's sleep may be one of the best-kept beauty secrets out there.
This reality was recently proven by John Axelsson of the Karolinska Institute, who took identically staged photos of 23 people. All of the participants had natural hairstyles, relaxed facial expressions and no makeup. The lighting for the sessions was the same, as was the subject's distance from the camera.
The only difference was the amount of sleep the people had received the night before; one group got a full night's sleep, the other slept just five hours after being awake for 31 hours straight.
When the photos were shown to a separate group of people, wouldn't you know it … they rated the sleep-deprived group as less healthy, less attractive and more tired.
Chances are you have noticed this phenomenon yourself on more than a few occasions just by looking in the mirror. After a night of not enough or poor sleep you're likely to wake up with dark circles under your eyes, sallow skin and a general look of being worn out and unrested.
Sleep is Essential for Your Body to Function
It's no wonder that your appearance suffers when you lose sleep, as it's an indicator of what is going on within your body as well.
Everybody loses sleep here and there, and your body can adjust for temporary shortcomings. But if you develop a chronic pattern of sleeping too little, then you're increasing your risk of a number of health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Neurodegenerative diseases
Sleep deprivation also ages you. Lack of sleep interferes with metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and memory loss.
Too little sleep can even wreak havoc on your weight. Losing sleep raises levels of two hormones linked with appetite and eating behavior. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin, a hormone that tells your brain you're satiated, and increases ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.
No doubt about it, a sleep deficit can have serious, far-reaching effects on your health – and bags under your eyes are the least of it. Other effects include:
- A single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.
- Good sleepers and poor sleepers experience about the same number of daily minor stressful events, but good sleepers are less disturbed by them. Poor sleepers experience life events as being more negative than do those who sleep well.
- Sleep deprivation can cause changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders.
- Sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you've already eaten.
- Interrupted sleep can dramatically weaken your immune system
- Tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or otherwise getting a restful night's sleep, be sure to read through my top 33 tips for optimal sleep.
Beauty is More Than Skin Deep
Your outward appearance typically reflects your health on the inside on both a physical and emotional level.
For instance, research shows that people who have been through the stress of a divorce look nearly two years older than their married, single or even widowed twin. Those who use antidepressants also appear significantly older. The researchers attributed this to the drugs causing continued relaxation of the facial muscles, which led to sagging, but it could also be that those taking antidepressants were under some type of psychological stress.
This is why releasing negative emotions with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which balances your energy and improves your body and mind's stress response, can actually improve your outward beauty along with your emotional health.
Likewise, eating a largely unhealthy diet of processed foods causes an accumulation of free radicals, or cell-damaging substances, in your body. Naturally, this type of cellular damage is most visible on your face, in the form of wrinkles, bags, droopy eyelids and loss of skin elasticity and glow.
So along with getting your beauty sleep, one way to decrease the speed at which signs of your real age show up is by consuming large amounts of whole, unprocessed, healthy raw foods that are loaded with antioxidants. If you're still young, you will be less likely to develop wrinkles and other signs of age in the first place if you take a proactive, healthy approach now.
Another key to maintaining a youthful appearance and brighter, clearer skin is regular exercise. And, if you shift away from regular aerobics and use Sprint 8 exercises instead, you will have a powerful way to naturally increase your growth hormone and radically reduce your aging rate. This will also be enormously beneficial in helping you sleep better. Just make sure you don't exercise right before you go to bed.
Interestingly, sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, which is normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep and also during certain types of exercise, such as the Peak Fitness Technique. Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.
So good food, regular exercise, stress relief and, of course, beauty sleep all go hand-in-hand when it comes to giving you that youthful healthy glow you're after.