Beauty sleep not a myth16th December 2010
Researchers in Sweden say they have found some scientific evidence to back up the concept of "beauty sleep".
People are commonly said to need to sleep in order to appear more attractive.
Now, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have shown that people deprived of sleep for longer periods appear less health and attractive than those who are getting enough sleep.
In the study, researchers took photographs of volunteers after they had enjoyed an eight-hour sleep, and again after they had been kept awake for the total of 31 hours.
They asked untrained observers to score the photographs in terms of how healthy and how attractive they thought the subjects looked.
The sleep-deprived participants generally received lower scores for healthiness and attractiveness.
Published in the British Medical Journal, the report said it had set out to discover whether there was any scientific basis behind the concept of beauty sleep.
The observers rated the faces of 23 young men and women for the purposes of the study, both after they had had a normal night's sleep, and after they had stayed up all night.
The subjects were exactly the same distance from the camera, and lit in exactly the same manner for both shots.
They wore no make-up and were asked to maintain the same facial expression for both photographs.
The results showed that sleep-deprived people were perceived generally as less attractive, less healthy and more tired than when they had had plenty of sleep, the researchers concluded.
Doctors could potentially use the results in a medical setting, picking up possible signs of ill-health in patients, they said.
Surrey Sleep Research Centre professor Derk-Jan Dijk said the study might even have given a rather muted sense of the difference in appearance between those who have slept and those who have not.
He said that effects of sleep loss on beauty might be even more dramatic than suggested by the article.
He pointed out that the photographs were taken during the daytime, when a person's biological clock was busy boosting wakefulness.
People who were sleep-deprived could look even worse at night or early in the morning, when the circadian clock was promoting sleep, he said.
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