Think the idea of beauty sleep is just an excuse that people use to catch a few extra minutes in bed? Think again! Long believed to be a myth, beauty sleep has been studied time and time again with researchers always coming to the same conclusion: it exists. Sleep affects the body on the inside and out, so when you don’t get enough of it, many aspects of your health—and beauty—begin to suffer.

Our bodies go into repair and restore mode during sleep, working tirelessly to regenerate cells to keep skin, hair and even internal organs healthy. When this time is interrupted or cut short, our bodies can’t complete what they are designed to do, and as a result, beauty and health suffers.

Although sleep is unarguably important, the truth is most people don’t get enough of it. Ideally, adults should sleep between 7 to 8 hours a night, although it’s more about the quality of sleep than the quantity. Without this precious sleep, adults will not only experience negative physical effects, but they’ll also begin to notice a decline in judgment skills and memory as well as anxious, irritable mood swings.

Stress is one of the main reasons why adults today either aren’t getting enough sleep or fail to get a restful sleep. In today’s society, many adults feel that getting everything done in one day is not possible, so they choose to cut back on sleep instead of neglecting one of their work, family or social obligations. Adults tend to rationalize that getting one less hour of sleep per night won’t have a huge effect on their condition or mental state the next day, although this assumption is wrong. Don’t sacrifice sleep in order to manage all of life’s expectations. It’s important to learn stress relief techniques such as meditation and deep breathing that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer when practiced regularly.

How can you tell when your body isn’t getting enough sleep? Besides those dark circles and puffy eyes, there are a few other noticeable signs. If you fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed, rely heavily on the snooze button to wake up or begin to feel lethargic during the afternoon, your body could be signaling sleep deprivation. Remember, “catching up” on sleep by taking naps throughout the day or sleeping in on the weekends is not enough, your body needs a full night of quality rest to function properly.

Women spend endless amounts of money on face creams and skin treatments to look beautiful, but little do they know that one of the best beauty tools is free and at their disposal whenever they need it! Next time you want to treat yourself, spend time doing an activity that will relax you and lead to a better night’s sleep, such as taking a warm bubble bath or spending a day at the spa.

To further understand how sleep, relaxation and meditation affect your beauty, take a look at this helpful infographic: