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Study Identifies the Face of Sleep Deprivation

Update Date: Aug 31, 2013 10:55 AM EDT

Sleep is a very important part of life. When people lose sleep, their cognitive functions might become slightly impaired. On top of that, a lack of sleep can lead to poorer moods and fatigue.  Several studies have found that sleep deprivation for young children and teenagers is associated with lower academic grades. Even though it might be obvious to tell when someone lost a good amount of sleep, a new study identified the exact face of someone with sleep deprivation.

"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," the lead author, Tina Sundelin said according to Medical Xpress. Sundelin is a doctoral student in the psychology department at Stockholm University in 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 this study, the researcher recruited 10 people to the Karolinska Institute. The participants were photographed at two separate times. The first photograph was taken after eight hours of sleep. The second photograph was taken after 31 hours of sleep deprivation. Both pictures were taken at 2:30 p.m. on site. The pictures were then given to 40 participants who rated them based on 10 facial cues, fatigue and sadness.

The researchers found that people who were sleep deprived were associated with hanging eyelids, redder eyes, swollen eyes and darker eye circles. Other symptoms that the raters tied to the sleep deprived participants were paler skin, more wrinkles, more fine lines, and droopy corners of the mouth. The raters also found that people who were sleep deprived were perceived as being sad and suffering from fatigue.

The study, "Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance," was published in Sleep.

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