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Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Want to be socially more appealing? Ensure you don't look exhausted

Want to be socially more appealing? Ensure you don't look exhausted

The research involved 25 male and female university students who were photographed after two days of sleep restriction and normal sleep. They were first asked to get plenty of sleep for two consecutive nights, and then a week later, to sleep only four hours a night for two nights. "A 2013 study indicated that sleep-deprived people look a bit more sad, so smiling more may further counteract the effects of looking exhausted".

Next, the researchers showed the photos to a different set of 122 volunteers they called "raters".

While the scientists acknowledged that attractiveness may have little to no connection with actual health, "faces that look healthy are also considered attractive".

Telling someone that they look exhausted could say more about our perception of that person than we might think, the study concludes.

Researchers say that just 2 nights of sleep deprivation can make one appear less attractive.

Sundelin and colleagues speculate that the effect of sleep deprivation on skin blood coloration may partly explain why poorly rested adults were rated less attractive and healthy. The data also demonstrated that they were also less willing to socialise with those who had not slept well. In other words, people don't want to hang around with people who might be ill, whereas someone who looks energetic and fit will hold lots of appeal.

"People seem to be able to tell when someone needs more sleep, and are more inclined to leave them alone in that case", the authors wrote in the new work.

They also were asked how much they would like to socialize with the person in the photo. But there were small differences in the ratings depending on whether the photo showed a person rested or sleep deprived.

Nevertheless, it might be a good idea to try and get the recommended eight hours of sleep whenever possible.

"The reasons for avoiding people who look sleepy may include the fact that sleepy individuals are at a higher risk for accidents, more prone to be carriers of contagious pathogens or aspects making them less socially rewarding to be around".

Still, the findings are interesting - if only as a reminder of the many ways that not getting enough sleep can negatively affect your wellbeing, including, apparently, your social wellbeing.

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