“Get your beauty sleep” is surely one of every mother’s favourite sayings. The notion of “beauty sleep” as always had something of a whiff of the old wives’ tale surrounding it; a romantic concept of the days of yore, where beauty was presumed attainable by eight hours hitting the hay and chowing down on carrot after endless carrot would give one hitherto unparalleled night vision.
Perhaps largely due to its status as a neat catchphrase used by mothers the globe over to encourage their reluctant offspring to get an early night rather than sit up into the wee hours staring blankly at a computer screen, little credence has ever been given to the legitimacy of the phrase’s insinuation; the idea that getting more sleep will adorn the beholden with good looks they so desire.
As the saying goes, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and new research appears to show that not getting enough sleep can have a very real impact on one’s attractiveness as perceived by others.
New research into the notion of beauty sleep strongly suggests that getting an appropriate amount of sleep holds a bearing on how attractive we seem to others. The sleep experiments found that just a few bad nights of rest will suffice in rendering the subject “significantly” more ugly, and the results suggest that the physical effects of ill-rest could have further considerable implications.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden began by measuring 25 male and female students’ quality of sleep using specially designed kits. The students were instructed to get a good night’s sleep on consecutive nights, and a week later to restrict themselves to just four hours of shut-eye. They were then photographed make-up free after their respective good and bad night’s rest.
The next step was to show those photographs to 122 strangers living in Stockholm, again both men and women, and ask them to rate the subject of the pictures on attractiveness, health, sleepiness and trustworthiness, with the accompanying question: “How much would you like to socialise with this person in the picture?”
The strangers quickly identified the set of tired photographs, and those photos were judged harshly on their attractiveness. Additionally, and perhaps more poignantly, the group of strangers asserted that they would be less willing to socialise with those in the tired group of photographs, as well as perceiving them as appearing more unhealthy than their well rested counterparts.
The researches say that their findings make evolutionary sense: “An unhealthy looking face, whether due to sleep deprivation or otherwise, might activate disease-avoiding mechanisms in others”.
Researches were quick to assuage any fears the public might have over their findings, adding that most people are absolutely fine if they miss a few hours sleep on occasion.
The study yields fascinating results for us all; mothers, it is your time to nod sagely, say “I told you so” and smile a slightly smug smile of triumph; you have been vindicated.