August 31, 2013
Your Face Shows When You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Sleep deprivation affects facial features such as the eyes, mouth and skin, according to a new study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. These facial features function as cues of sleep loss to other people.
The results of this study, published in the journal Sleep, reveal the faces of sleep-deprived people were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes and darker circles under the eyes. Other perceived effects of sleep deprivation include paler skin, more wrinkles or fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth. Individuals were also perceived to look sadder when sleep-deprived, with sadness being linked to looking fatigued.
"Since faces contain a lot of information on which humans base their interactions with each other, how fatigued a person appears may affect how others behave toward them," said Tina Sundelin, MSc, doctoral student in the department of psychology at Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden. "This is relevant not only for private social interactions, but also official ones such as with health care professionals and in public safety."
For the study, ten participants were photographed on two separate occasions: after eight hours of normal sleep and after 31 hours of sleep deprivation. The images were captured in the laboratory at 2:30 pm both times. The 20 photographs were then rated by 40 additional participants with respect to ten facial cues, fatigues and sadness.
The researchers say face perception involves a specialized neuronal network and is one of the most developed visual perceptual skills in humans. Judgments of attributes such as trustworthiness, aggressiveness and competence can be affected by facial appearance. This has a high social significance as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports about 30 percent of adults in the US regularly get insufficient sleep.