Photo: Rex


When will we stop being told to get our “beauty sleep”?

In the wake of a new study about the effect of sleep on appearance, a quick Google search proves that the concept of "beauty sleep" is still asking women to try harder

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By Hannah Banks-Walker on

We could all probably do with more sleep. In our social-media-obsessed, post-truth world, it’s the one luxury available to us all – and one in which we probably don’t indulge as much as we should. The reasons why more sleep is beneficial to health are obvious but, according to a new study, we now also need to worry about our levels of attractiveness. 

Published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, the study examines the “negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal”. The results, in a nutshell, showed that – spoiler alert – “sleep-restricted, participants were perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more sleepy". More depressing, however, is not the study itself, but the reactions to it, with some media outlets reporting that – despite the study’s conclusion that this affects both sexes – this is only a woman’s problem.  

A quick look at Google only deepens any feelings of despair you may already be experiencing. Searching for “How do you wake up beautiful?” currently brings up around 63.3 million results, number one of which is an article advising women to “find your inner ballerina” and “avoid carb face”. Er, what? 

Searching for 'How do you wake up beautiful?' currently brings up around 63.3 million results, number one of which is an article advising women to 'find your inner ballerina' and 'avoid carb face'

Almost all of the results come from publications aimed at women, while most of them carry the same message: get softer skin, wake up without spots, shrink your puffy eyes, wake up with plump lips, wake up with smooth hair – you name it, there’s a product for it. One even suggests women “create a moist environment” (gross and also: what?) and “rest your head on a satin pillowcase”. Good grief. 

It doesn’t get any better, either. One of the other top search terms, which has over 52 million results on Google, is “How to look good when you wake up next to a guy”. While it was almost too awful to look at any of the articles addressing this subject, the first few all toed the same line: HE will be horrified if you don’t look “flawless” upon waking. One direct quote is as follows: “You should always bring a small plastic bag [with your make-up in] or one of those travel-sized cases.” I’m exhausted. 

Instead of carrying airport-security bags overflowing with make-up with us everywhere we go, perhaps the world could stop inflicting this weird Disney-princess standard of “beauty” on us and we could just relax. Maybe then we’d actually be able to sleep better.


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Photo: Rex
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