In an ironic twist, a new study shows that a decidedly unattractive sleep apnea treatment could actually make you appear more attractive.
People with obstructive sleep apnea who use CPAP for at least two months look younger and more attractive than they would without the sleep apnea treatment, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
"This may help convince patients to use their CPAP machines on a nightly basis," study researcher Ronald D. Chervin, M.D., M.S., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, said in a statement.
The findings support a recent study in the journal SLEEP, showing that sleep-deprived faces look sadder and less attractive than well-rested faces. Specifically, that study showed that sleep-deprivation seems to spur swollen eyes, wrinkles, droopy eyelids and dark under-eye circles.
The new study is based on 20 adults with obstructive sleep apnea -- where they stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night because of airway blockages from the throat muscles, leading to disrupted sleep -- who were also experiencing daytime sleepiness. At the start of the study, researchers took pictures of their faces with special 3-D cameras. Then the study participants underwent at least two months of CPAP therapy for their sleep disorder, after which researchers again took their pictures. They used computer software to analyze both volume and color of the "before" and "after" photos.
The researchers also had 22 volunteers look at the "before" and "after" photos to rate them for attractiveness, alertness and youthfulness.
Perhaps not surprisingly, more people -- 68 percent -- said the faces in the post-CPAP photos appeared more alert than the pre-CPAP photos. Plus, 67 percent said the faces in the post-CPAP photos appeared more attractive, and 64 percent said the faces in the post-CPAP photos appeared more youthful.
The computer software analysis also showed that under-eye redness, cheek redness and forehead surface volume were all decreased after the CPAP treatment.
CPAP treatment for sleep apnea may not just be good for your looks, either; research presented last year at a meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies suggested that CPAP could actually help men's sex life, by improving erectile dysfunction and libido, NBC News reported.