A new study conducted at the University of Michigan is the first to actually use advanced, objective measuring systems to determine that “beauty sleep” is more than just a figure of speech. The study, conducted using an innovative measuring system known as photogrammetry, indicated that getting several continuous months of high-quality sleep in appropriate quantities increases your apparent youthfulness and attractiveness.
In order for sleep to qualify as true “beauty rest,” it must be untainted by irregular breathing, snoring and sleep apnea. The study included 20 individuals who were treated for sleep apnea. To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers judged photographs taken using a photogrammetry system before and after sleep apnea treatment. For most study subjects, the judges ranked their post-treatment pictures more highly.
Too Many Americans Sleep Too Little
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25% of Americans say they get too little sleep at least some of the time, and about 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. An additional 7% of the U.S. population suffers from obstructive sleep apnea which frequently interrupts and reduces the overall quality of sleep.
Dr. Ronald Chervin, one of the lead researchers behind the study and chief of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, said that the idea for the formal study came about after several of his patients reported better physical appearance after being successfully treated for sleep apnea.
Using Reconstructive Surgery Tools to Measure Post-Treatment Appearance
Dr. Chervin and Dr. Steven Buchman, a reconstructive surgeon, collaborated on the study and used photogrammetry in order to take several photos of the subjects before and after their treatment. All of the photos were taken under identical lighting conditions to help avoid subjectivity. Photogrammetry is a measuring system commonly used by reconstructive surgeons to plan and assess the success of reconstructive surgical operations. The system can detect even extremely minor differences in the contours of the face.
Dr. Buchman suggested that the study indicates a strong link between your appearance and the quality of your sleep. Overall, the post-treatment photographs included firmer skin under the eyes, a lighter complexion in the cheeks and fewer wrinkles on the forehead, according to Dr. Buchman.
Admittedly, the study was rather limited in scope seeing as it only contained 20 participants. However, the researchers are confident in their findings, and said that the findings should reinforce the significance of getting a solid night of sleep whenever you can, not just of getting proper treatment for sleep apnea. They added that if you suffer from snoring, seeking treatment could improve not only your appearance, but your spouse’s appearance as well.
The Bottom Line
Getting enough sleep each night on a consistent basis will not only make you feel better, but look better as well. The findings come courtesy of a study by the University of Michigan, the first of its kind to use objective measuring techniques to gauge appearance.
The full text of the study is available online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.