Sleep deprivation takes its toll on your health – and much faster than you think.

Everybody knows that there is nothing better for your feeling good than eight hours of sleep. Although many people believe that an occasional sleepless night won’t do them serious harm, a recent research study proves this popular misconception completely wrong. As little as two consecutive nights of not enough sleep can be clearly seen on your face, and, to make matters worse, they can lead to you losing your appeal.

The experiment involved 25 participants – both men and women – who were first asked to get a good night’s sleep and then to deprive themselves of sleep for two nights in succession.

After each session the participants were photographed with no make up on; these photos were then shown to a group of 122 complete strangers. The strangers were asked to assess the attractiveness, healthiness, trustworthiness and sleepiness of people in the images, and to say whether or not they would like to socialize with them.

Not surprisingly, sleep-deprived participants got poorer grades for their attractiveness and healthiness. The strangers had no problems spotting those who were sleepy, and generally found them unappealing enough to avoid social contacts with them. On the bright side, it was proven that lack of sleep does not noticeably affect your trustworthiness.

It seems that there is really such a thing as beauty sleep, and that sleeping like a log may be helpful in making friends.

Nonetheless, it has to be admitted that statistically the experiment is not ideal: for example, there are simply not enough participants to generalize the findings to a wider population, and the study did not take account of such things as individual biases. However, it is reliable enough to offer you a good rule of thumb: you need that eight hours’ sleep to keep your looks.