Does Being Sleep Deprived Make You Less Attractive?

stockvault-woman-trying-to-wake-up127893We’ve all heard it before, “You look tired.”

While some may be asking out of genuine concern, others may be simply pointing out the harsh truth that you’re not looking to great. And just when we thought these people were simply being mean, science backs them up.

In a recent article from Slate they discuss research led by John Axelsson and Tina Sundelin; research which confirms that those who have slept less are perceived as less attractive, happy and healthy.

In order to confirm what many of us have already experienced, the researchers photographed 23 healthy individuals. The first photo was after a full night’s sleep while the second was after 31 hours of being awake. The photos were then rated by 65 “untrained observers” that ranked the photos on listlessness, dejection and ten other scales of physical attractiveness or beauty.

As you can already imagine the photographs of the tired individuals were ranked much lower than the ones of the well rested participants. The tired photos were seen to be less attractive as they often were reported as having redder eyes, darker circles, paler skin, more wrinkles and an overall sadness to them.

So why is this important? Do we really want scientific evidence that we don’t look good when were sleepy? Well maybe not, but the researchers have provided some very practical reasons for why this information is valuable.

People are capable of detecting sleep loss related facial cues, and these cues modify judgments of another’s health and attractiveness…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,” Sundelin said in a press release.

James Hamblin, of The Atlantic, who also reported on the study, responded with two very interesting questions.  Is this part of our innate sense of empathy? (I should go easy on this tired person, or offer them a bed) Or is it part of an innate ability to identify and exploit weakness? (This person looks tired. Now would be a good time to rob them)

What do you think? Are we looking to be empathetic or to exploit these tired individuals?

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