Missing out on sleep is never fun. And there are plenty of negative effects of appearing tired. You wake up begrudgingly lethargic and looking more than a little worse for the wear. Despite the widespread understanding that sleep is necessary for our health, millions of Americans live with the consequences of a sleep deficit.
Unfortunately, these consequences affect more than your physical well-being. Recent research reveals that your lack of sleep may also be ruining your social life.
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The Negative Side Effects of Appearing Tired
Human beings have rich social realities that form the basis for numerous levels of social bonding. Acquaintances, friendships, and even the most intimate partnerships make up every individual’s social landscape. While these have real emotional and psychological value, their evolutionary purpose remains rooted in Darwinian Theory. To put it simply, human beings have always needed other human beings to survive. Even today, we rely on the collective strengths of communities, regions, and even nations to function successfully. But what does this have to do with you looking tired?
The Social Cost of Exhaustion
An important aspect of human socialization is evaluation. Despite the fact that parameters for human success have been permanently altered by technological advancement, our brains haven’t changed that much. Physical fitness and general health still show a high level of correlation with positive social experiences, even outside of sexual attraction. By contrast, the above-mentioned research showed that people who appeared tired were perceived as more sickly and actively avoided by others in an open social setting.
Researchers are still debating as to why people seem to avoid others who show physical signs of tiredness, but they can be roughly broken into three camps.
Three Opinions on Negative Effects of Appearing Tired
- Some argue that tired people are simply perceived as less attractive. So other people will less likely engage them or seek their approval. This thought process proves supported by studies that had people rate the attractiveness of strangers using two different photographs. One photograph was taken after two full nights of sleep. The other was taken after two nights where they were only allowed to sleep for four hours.
- Other researchers believe that the physical signs of tiredness look very similar to illness. They believe that avoiding people who show signs of ill-health is an evolutionary response to prevent the spread of disease.
- Yet another group argues that this documented avoidance is a learned behavior. It holds true tired people show more irritability. So people may just choose to avoid the possibility of a negative social experience.
In many cases, those who research the topic fit into two or even three of these categories. They recognize that it is a complex issue with no easy answers. However, there is one thing we know for certain. Looking tired isn’t good for your social life.
Treating the Physical Signs of Exhaustion
If you find yourself waking up to heavy under-eye bags and pale skin, then the first thing you need to do is address your sleep schedule. Most adults need between 7 and 10 hours of sleep per night, and teenagers need even more. For those who have trouble falling asleep, limit caffeine intake after noon and turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed. However, there are some people who just look tired naturally.
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