The notion that a good night's sleep enhances beauty has long been accepted by everyone from magazine editors to past U.S. presidents, but a new study has finally provided evidence that "beauty sleep" is more than just an expression: it's science.
The study, led by John Axelsson of Sweden's Karolinska Institute, was published Dec. 14 in BMJ, a British medical journal. It set out to explore the effect that sleep has on how one is perceived, specifically on others' judgments of an individual's attractiveness and health. A group of 23 participants, all between the ages of 18 and 31, were photographed twice: once after getting a full eight hours of sleep, and then again when limited to five hours of sleep followed by 31 hours of sleep deprivation. The researchers then asked a group of 65 untrained observers to rate the photographs based on healthiness, attractiveness and overall tiredness. The observers were unaware which of the two photographs in each pair was taken after a normal night's sleep and which was not.
"Our findings show that sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive and more tired compared with when they are well rested," wrote the researchers. "This suggests that humans are sensitive to sleep-related facial cues." While the long-term effects of poor sleep on overall health have been widely researched, this is the first study to provide evidence that in the short term, sleep deprivation does in fact show up as a discernible change in facial appearance. So, get some sleep and go from rough to ravishing!