Not getting enough sleep may make you perceived as more tired, less healthy and less attractive. In addition, people are less willing to spend time with someone who looks tired and there is even a risk that you’ll be less successful in finding a job.

“There is a lot of research on how sleep deprivation has negative effects on the individual, but less about how the outside world perceives someone who looks tired. We wanted to find out whether people who look tired also risk being judged unfavourably by others”, says Tina Sundelin, Ph.D. at the Department of Psychology, Stockholm University.

In four different studies, photographs of people with varying amount of sleep were shown to assessors who evaluated them based on factors such as attractiveness, health, reliability, leadership, employability and how much they wanted to spend time with the person in the photo. When people looked tired, they were assessed more negatively than when the same persons looked alert.

“Even though we all know it's important to sleep, there are many of us who take some of the hours we need for sleep to prioritize work instead, to watch TV series or spend time on the internet. Hopefully, these results can contribute to people choosing necessary sleep over other less essential activities”, says Tina Sundelin.

The Face of Sleep Loss