Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Less Attractive

And there you were thinking “beauty sleep” was just a turn of phrase. As it turns out, though, how much sleep you get influences how others perceive you in several different ways, including how attractive they find you.

That’s according to a new study from researchers at Stockholm University and at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. To learn more about how sleep changes the way people are perceived, the researchers had 25 female participants either sleep normally for two days or participate in a “sleep restriction” program (which is exactly as much fun as it sounds like).

The participants were then photographed, and 122 other women were asked to rate the photographed participants on several different measures, including how much they’d want to socialize with each participant and how healthy, attractive and trustworthy they thought each participant was.

It turned out that people were less interested in socializing with the participants who’d been sleeping less for two days than the ones who’d slept normally. Based on the photographs, people also rated the sleep-deprived participants as less attractive and, perhaps unsurprisingly, less healthy.

The silver lining for those suffering from sleep deprivation is that at least whether or not people were sleep-deprived didn’t impact whether or not they came across as trustworthy. Still, if you’re less attractive, less socially desirable and seemingly less healthy, being trusted might be little consolation.

Although it’s not clear exactly why people perceive sleep-deprived individuals differently, the authors of the study suggested a possible explanation. They pointed out that humans could be evolutionary wired to be “sensitive to others’ sleep history” because how sleepy someone is can “indicate something about their health as well as their capacity for social interaction.”

So if you want to send out vibes of being healthy, attractive and social, you know what to do: get some sleep!

Image: Flickr/planetchopstick


  1. Maria on June 22, 2017 at 7:22 am

    The expression is “a turn OF phrase.”

    • Neil Petersen on June 22, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Your typo-spotting services are appreciated. 😉