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How Sleep Deprivation Affects Our Attractiveness And Approachability

09/11/2012 08:45 am ET | Updated Sep 14, 2012
Flickr: HarshLight

What if Sleeping Beauty's secret was actually just that: to sleep? We know that lack of sleep affects our attention, our behavior and our health -- but what about our physical appearance? Researchers from the Medical Institutet Karolinska in Stockholm, Sweden have shown in a recent study that lack of sleep not only affects our attractiveness but also our approachability.

According to that experiment, sleeping four hours a night -- or not at all -- wouldn't make any difference. In both cases the individuals tested in the experiment appeared to others as equally exhausted. But beyond appearance, the study reveals that lack of sleep repels those you meet or socialize with.

In 2010, the same scientific team published the results of its first experiment, which has shown that even though we are not conscious about it we are generally able to detect if other people have been sleep deprived. At that time, the study established a link between perceived beauty and sleep deprivation. Other studies prior to that had already established a link between beauty and healthy living.

"Our first experiment has shown that people are perceived differently when they have been deprived of sleep, the second one shows that on top of that people just don't want to socialize with sleep-deprived people,” Dr. John Axelsson explains to Le Huffington Post. So, if you don't feel desirable or charming, or even if you feel ugly or socially excluded, don't wait for the Prince, and have a good night of sleep.

Axelsson and his research team used nearly the same protocol in both experiments. For the first, they deprived the individuals of sleep for 31 hours before taking a picture and did the same thing with other people who had slept normally. The images were then presented to a third group of people, unrelated to the others, to assess how they perceived the individuals in the first two groups. The only difference: in the second, more recent experiment, instead of not sleeping at all, individuals of the first group slept four hours.

For more on sleep, click here.

Flickr photo by HARSHLIGHT

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