DermNews: Sleep Deprivation Causes Changes in Facial Features, Premature Aging

Thought you were hiding your exhaustion with concealer and coffee? Think again.

A recent study conducted by Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, reveals that sleep deprivation negatively impacts the appearance of facial features such as the skin, mouth, and eyes. Sleep-deprived people are also perceived as looking “sadder,” according to researchers.

This brings a whole new meaning to the term “beauty rest,” doesn’t it?

The study involved ten subjects who were photographed on two separate occasions: after 8 hours of normal sleep and after 31 hours of no sleep. Forty observers then rated the photographs with respect to facial cues, fatigue, and sadness. In the photographs taken after sleep deprivation the subjects were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, paler skin, more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, more wrinkles/fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth.

“The ‘lookness’ of people elicits a strong mental and visceral response in the observer, even if the observer is you looking in the mirror or at a photograph,” said study researcher Tina Sundelin, a doctoral student in the department of psychology at Stockholm University in Sweden. “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.”

Need more incentive to get sufficient shut eye? Another recent study, this one commissioned by Estée Lauder and conducted at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, demonstrated that poor sleepers had increased signs of skin aging, including increased signs of fine lines, reduced elasticity, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin.

“Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging,” said Elma Baron, MD, who led the Case Medical research team. “Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown.”