Research Says That Beauty Sleep Really Does Make You More Beautiful

It's not just an old wives' tale: A recent study says that sleep really can make you appear more attractive and healthy.

Swedish researchers say there's an important link between sleep and your physical appearance. In a study published in December 2010 in the British Medical Journal, researcher John Axelsson and his team at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than those who have received a full night's worth of sleep. 

"Sleep is the body's natural beauty treatment," Axelsson said. "It's probably more effective than any other treatment you could buy." 

This is the first scientific evidence that beauty sleep, in fact, does make a big difference on your looks. The study looked at 23 participants between the ages of 18 to 31. They were photographed between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on two occasions, once after normal sleep and once after being deprived of sleep. Smokers were excluded from the research and no alcohol was allowed for two days prior to the experiment.

The photos were rated by 65 untrained observers who graded the images in these three categories -- how healthy, attractive, and tired the individuals appeared. On the whole, the participants were judged to be worse-off after sleep deprivation, in all categories, and the scientists believe the effects would be even more dramatic in person, when factors like blink rate and drowsiness could be observed.

According to this study when a person was sleep-deprived, they appeared six percent less healthy and four percent less attractive. 

Only one photo set was publicly released from the sample, showing a young man. After sleep deprivation, his eyes seem duller and the skin under his eyes appear puffy.

The guy on the right side of the photo got more sleep.

But, what this really speaks to is that the amount of sleep you get can change how you feel internally but possibly, also, can manifest externally.

But what does lack of sleep do to your appearance?

Ashton said, "A lot of things. For some people they might see bags under their eyes, maybe a little more dehydrated, a little more irritable and not smile as much. It can be all of those things."

Lack of sleep could also affect your inner beauty.

Ashton said, "This is hugely important, actually. What it does on the inside of our body when we don't get sufficient sleep, from head to toe, it affects our mood, the way our brain processes new information on a cellular level can cause increase in inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. We've heard also people who are more prone to obesity and insulin resistance."


The idea of beauty rest is ingrained in popular culture, but it's apparently never been put to the test by science. Axelsson said his young daughter gave him the reason to take on the subject. She was watching the classic animated film "Sleeping Beauty" when she had a question.
"My daughter asked me, why is the sleeping beauty so beautiful? Is it because she sleeps a lot?" Axelsson recalled. "As a scientist, I couldn't answer, so I had to do a study."

The Swedish research team says its findings have implications beyond looking good. Axelsson said that the findings could be important for doctors, who should familiarize themselves with the sleep history of a patient to provide a more precise diagnosis.

Plenty of research points to the importance of a good night's sleep. Over the years, studies have found links between poor sleep and Alzheimer's disease, depression, and even weight gain. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control found that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from constant sleep loss or sleep disorders, and the number of people averaging six hours of sleep or less was on the rise.  

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