Two consecutive nights of restricted sleep could be enough to make someone appear less attractive to others, as well as making people less interested in hanging out with them, according to a joint study from New York University and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Telling someone that they look tired could say more about our perception of that person than we might think, the study concludes.
The scientists studied 25 Swedish students -- 14 women, 11 men -- aged 18 to 47 years old, who had their photos taken after two consecutive nights of poor sleep -- just 4.25 hours -- and after two consecutive nights of normal sleep -- about 7.5 hours. In all photos, subjects were makeup free, wore a gray t-shirt and had their hair pulled away from their faces.
The researchers then asked 122 volunteers (65 women, 57 men) aged 18 to 65 years old how much they would like to socialize with the person in the photo. They were also asked to rate the subjects on attractiveness, health, sleepiness and trustworthiness.
The results showed that the "raters" were less keen on socializing with subjects who looked tired. They also considered the poorly rested subjects to be less attractive, less healthy and more sleepy compared to when they were well rested.
That said, certain subjects didn't appear any more tired in the photo taken after two nights' restricted sleep, with virtually no difference between their two pictures. Two subjects were even rated as more attractive in their sleep-restricted photos.
To mask the effects of tiredness, the authors suggest that a cup of coffee and a spot of makeup might help a person look more awake. Smiling may also help counteract the gloomy look that sometimes comes with tiredness.
This story first appeared on AFP Relax News 19th May 2017.