May 14, 2018

It's no secret that missing out on a good night's sleep can leave you feeling (and looking) like a train wreck the next morning. We're all familiar with the puffy eyes, tired complexion, wrinkles, and eye bags that show up the morning after a late night. But if you thought that a simple cup of coffee and a face mask in the morning were enough to perk you up... think again! Recent studies have shown that sleep deprivation does indeed make you less attractive - and nothing but a good snooze can reverse the effects.

Read on to learn more about the science behind beauty sleep, why sleep deprivation makes you less attractive, and the beauty benefits that come with a good night's rest.

Scientists Agree: Beauty Sleep Really Exists

In 2010, researchers with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm published a study on the attractiveness of sleep-deprived people in the British Medical Journal. In their experiment, researchers took 2 photos of 23 volunteers: one after a full 8-hour sleep, and another after 5 hours of sleep followed by 31 hours of being awake. Then they asked 65 observers to rate the people in the photos based on attractiveness, healthiness, and overall tiredness. The study found that observers consistently rated the sleep-deprived people as less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than the well-rested ones!1 The researchers state that, "Apparent tiredness was strongly related to looking less healthy and less attractive ... indicating that a large part of the found effects and relations on appearing healthy and attractive were mediated by looking tired." In other words, the more sleep-deprived you are, the less healthy you look - and that has a direct effect on your level of attractiveness!

Then, in May 2017, researchers took it a step further: the study, which was jointly funded by the Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University, used a more natural sleep deprivation level (photos taken after two 8-hour nights, then again after two 4-hour nights instead of staying awake for 31 hours after one 5-hour night like the previous study), and had participants rate the photos based on attractiveness, health, trustworthiness, and how willing they were to socialize with that person. As it turns out, you're less attractive both physically and socially after a short time of sleep deprivation.6

Clearly, the notion of beauty sleep is more than just skin deep!

How A Good Night's Sleep Makes You More Beautiful

When it comes to looking your best, a good night's sleep might be the easiest and most effective beauty treatment out there. Getting enough Zzz's every night is the key: at least 7 to 9 hours each night is essential to your overall health. While you're sleeping, your body gets to work repairing itself and recovering from the day, leading to some big beauty benefits! Here are just a few of the things you can expect when you start upping your sleep intake:

1. Less Wrinkles

Studies have shown that poor-quality sleep is linked to increased signs of aging, lower satisfaction with appearance, and diminished skin barrier function.4Your skin produces collagen when you sleep, which fights the signs of aging by plumping up your skin and preventing sagging. When you're sleep deprived, you're more likely to have dry skin that makes fine lines and wrinkles stand out.

2. Brighter, Less Puffy Eyes

Puffy eyes are a sure sign that someone isn't getting enough sleep. But in addition to being more swollen, a lack of sleep can also make your eyes appear redder, with sagging eyelids and dark circles.5 That's because sleep-deprived people are less hydrated and have poorer blood flow, causing blood to pool under your eyes giving them a swollen, dark appearance. In addition to sleeping well, make sure your head is elevated at night to reduce swelling!

3. A Clear, Glowing Complexion

When you're missing out on sleep, your face goes through some pretty drastic changes. Sleep deprivation results in poorer blood flow, making your face look paler and more ashy than usual.3 It reduces the amount of water and collagen built up in your skin so your face will start to sag and droop as well. Additionally, sleep is essential to your body's ability to heal itself! Sunburn, acne, and other skin problems will take longer to heal in sleep-deprived people. If you're missing out on that youthful, glowing appearance - your sleep habits might be to blame!

4. Healthier, Fuller Hair

Before you invest in expensive hair treatments, consider the effect that your sleep habits are having on the health of your hair. Studies have shown that sleep loss has a direct effect on your blood flow and your body's level of the stress hormone, cortisol. But what does that have to do with hair? Well, increased levels of stress can literally make your hair fall out.2 In addition to making your hair fall out, sleep deprivation reduces blood flow in your skin and hair follicles. That means that your hair gets less nutrients, is more prone to breakage, and grows more slowly.

5. An Overall Happier and Healthier Appearance

Believe it or not, sleep deprivation doesn't just make you feel grumpy - it makes you look it, too! Saggy eyelids, pale skin, and a downturned mouth all contribute to an overall sad, unhealthy appearance, making you look less approachable.5 So make sure you're not burning the candle at both ends if you want to put your best face forward!


  1. Axelsson, J., et al. "Beauty Sleep: Experimental Study on the Perceived Health and Attractiveness of Sleep Deprived People." Bmj, vol. 341, no. dec14 2, 2010, pp. c6614-c6614., doi:10.1136/bmj.c6614.
  2. Botchkarev, Vladimir A. "Stress and the Hair Follicle. " The American Journal of Pathology, vol. 162, no. 3, 2003, pp. 709-712., doi:10.1016/s0002-9440(10)63866-7.
  3. Chervin, Ronald D., et al. "The Face of Sleepiness: Improvement in Appearance after Treatment of Sleep Apnea. " Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2013, doi:10.5664/jcsm.2976.
  4. Oyetakin-White, P., et al. "Does Poor Sleep Quality Affect Skin Ageing? " Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, vol. 40, no. 1, 2014, pp. 17-22., doi:10.1111/ced.12455.
  5. Sundelin, Tina, et al. "Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance. " Sleep, vol. 36, no. 9, 2013, pp. 1355-1360., doi:10.5665/sleep.2964.
  6. Sundelin, Tina, et al. "Negative Effects of Restricted Sleep on Facial Appearance and Social Appeal." Royal Society Open Science, vol. 4, no. 5, 2017, p. 160918., doi:10.1098/rsos.160918.