The importance of assessing evolutionarily relevant social cues suggests that humans should be sensitive to others' sleep history, as this may indicate something about their health as well as their capacity for social interaction. Recent findings show that acute sleep deprivation and looking tired are related to decreased attractiveness and health, as perceived by others. This suggests that one might also avoid contact with sleep-deprived, or sleepy-looking, individuals, as a strategy to reduce health risk and poor interactions. In this study, 25 participants (14 females, age range 18-47 years) were photographed after 2 days of sleep restriction and after normal sleep, in a balanced design. The photographs were rated by 122 raters (65 females, age range 18-65 years) on how much they would like to socialize with the participants. They also rated participants' attractiveness, health, sleepiness and trustworthiness. The results show that raters were less inclined to socialize with individuals who had gotten insufficient sleep. Furthermore, when sleep-restricted, participants were perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more sleepy. There was no difference in perceived trustworthiness. These findings suggest that naturalistic sleep loss can be detected in a face and that people are less inclined to interact with a sleep-deprived individual.
Keywords: attractiveness; faces; sleep; sleep restriction; sleepiness; social appeal.