This is for everyone who’s ever been asked “Are you feeling okay?” after a bad night’s sleep.
A small new study in the journal Sleep shows that sleep-deprived faces look more, shall we say, weary — in the form of redder and more swollen eyes, dark under-eye circles, more wrinkles and droopier eyelids — than well-rested faces.
“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,” study researcher Tina Sundelin, M.Sc., a doctoral student in the department of psychology at Stockholm University in Sweden, said in a statement. “This is relevant not only for private social interactions, but also official ones such as with health care professionals and in public safety.”
The study is based on 10 people who had photographs taken of them at 2:30 PM after eight hours of sleep and after going 31 hours without sleep. Then, 40 study participants looked at 20 photographs and rated them based on fatigue, sadness and facial cues.
Indeed, the photos of the subjects when they were sleep-deprived depicted more dark under-eye circles, paler skin, and droopy corners of the mouth. The study participants also said that the people who were sleep-deprived looked sadder because they looked tired.
Recently, a study commissioned by Estée Lauder showed that sleep deprivation could make your skin age faster, as well as lower its ability to recover from sun exposure, HuffPost50 reported.
Sleep Deprivation Dangers
1. Increases Stroke Risk – Even without the typical risk factors, like being overweight or having a family history, short sleep can catch up your risk for stroke, according to 2012 research. Adults who regularly slept fewer than six hours a night had four times the risk of stroke symptoms, HuffPost reported.
2. Lead to Obesity – Too little sleep can spur less-than-ideal food choices, including serving yourself larger portions, and a hankering for junk food, thanks to some complicated hormonal changes that occur when you don’t get sufficient shuteye. It seems that six hours of sleep or less bumps up production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and limits leptin, which helps you balance your food intake, according to a 2012 review of 18 studies of sleep and appetite.
3. Up Diabetes Risk – A pair of small studies from 2012 examined the link between poor sleep and insulin resistance, a telltale risk factor for diabetes. One found that among healthy teenagers, the shortest sleepers had the highest insulin resistance, meaning the body is not using insulin effectively, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The second study examined fat cells, in particular, and found that cutting back on sleep increased insulin resistance in these cells, even when diet and calorie intake were restricted, Health.com reported.
4. Fuel Memory Loss – You probably know that on the days when you are most tired, you’re forgetful and unfocused — but sleep deprivation can lead to permanent cognitive issues. The less we sleep, the less we benefit from the memory storing properties of sleep. But additionally, a lack of sleep can cause “brain deterioration,” according to a 2013 study, which may at least in part explain memory loss in seniors.
5. Damage Bones – At least in rats, long-term sleep deprivation seems to contribute to osteoporosis, according to a 2012 study. Researchers found changes to bone mineral density and bone marrow in the rodents when they were deprived of shuteye over a period of 72 days.
“If true in humans, and I expect that it may be, this work will have great impact on our understanding of the impact of sleep deprivation on osteoporosis and inability to repair bone damage as we age,” Steven R. Goodman, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of Experiment Biology and Medicine, said in a statement.
6. Increases Cancer Risk – A small (but growing) body of research suggest that short and poor sleep can up risk for certain types of cancer. A 2010 study found that among 1,240 people screened for colorectal cancer, the 338 who were diagnosed were more likely to average fewer than six hours of sleep a night. Even after controlling for more traditional risk factors, polyps were more common in people who slept less, according to the study.
Getting just six hours of sleep a night has also been linked to an increase of recurrence in breast cancer patients. The study’s author has pointed to more and better sleep as a possible pathway of reducing risk and recurrence.
7. Hurt Your Heart – The stress and strain of too little sleep can cause the body to produce more of the chemicals and hormones that can lead to heart disease, according to 2011 research. The study found that people who slept for six hours or less each night and have problems staying asleep had a 48% higher risk of developing or dying from heart disease.
8. Kill You – It’s not just heart problems that can lead to sleep-deprivation-related death. In fact, short sleepers seem to die younger of any cause than people who sleep about 6.5 to 7.5 hours a night, TIME reported. A 2010 study examined the impact of short sleep on mortality and found that men who slept less than six hours were four times more likely to die over a 14-year period. The study’s authors called this link “a risk that has been underestimated.”