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If you look sad and old you may not be sleeping enough

09-12-2013

If you look sad and old you may not be sleeping enough

Are you looking sadder and older? Well you may not be sleeping enough. Yes, research has found that sleep, or rather the lack of good quality and quantity of sleep, can make us look sad and look old. While this may not seem like a revelation for some us who have got up from a poor night’s sleep only to see a sad and old looking person in the mirror, the scientific research takes our admittedly anecdotal findings and shows that there are some sound underlying principles at work.

Do you sometimes get up after a terrible night’s sleep and see an old and sad looking person in the mirror? Well you are not alone. In fact, a recent study found that what you have been seeing in your mirror after a bad night is not just a personal feeling of decrepitude but that people who are sleep deprived are more worn-out, they have darker under-eye circles, they have redder and more swollen eyes, more wrinkles and droopier eyelids and mouths than when they are well rested. The researchers think that people who are sleep deprived find it harder to close their eyelids, which then makes their eyes redder, with more swollen skin tissue surrounding the eyes, and dark circles appearing under the
eyes.

If that wasn’t bad enough they also found that we also look sadder when we have not had a good night’s sleep, and that this apparent greater sadness is somehow related to the look of being fatigued. The more tired we look the older and sadder we look. In other words, not having enough sleep will not only make you look older, making your face take on an aged appearance, but that when we look tired people perceive us as being sadder as well. It is almost enough to make you feel sad about looking old.

The study  examined 10 subjects who were photographed during two separate sleep situations: After eight hours of normal sleep and after 30 hours without sleep. Their photos were then taken and these were rated by 40 participants based on 10 specific facial cues.

The researchers talk about how amazing the human ability to glean information from fellow human’s faces is, that we are able to determine a vast range of complex information from the shape and cast of a face, from the overall quality of our genetic material to how current mood, from whether we are telling the truth to how well rested we are. While some of this information is consciously received, other pieces of the puzzle are registered at a subliminal level.

The connection between sleep and how happy or sad we look seems to be at the subliminal level, as the connections are made without thinking about it. The respondents automatically link tiredness with sadness, suggesting that this is a hardwired connection.

The take home from this research is fairly simple and obvious: if you want to look younger and happier then you need to get more sleep. 
 


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