Mind, Body, and Sleep: Integrating DBT Skills for Recharged Living

a person is sleeping, faced away from the camera. just their head is visible on the pillow below the covers

Sleep plays a crucial role in supporting your overall health and well-being. A good night’s rest can improve your concentration and productivity, reduce your risk of heart disease, protect you against diabetes, and strengthen your immune system.

However, in the US one in three people fail to get enough sleep. Current estimates suggest that 50 million to 70 million Americans also have a sleep disorder, while 9 – 15% say a lack of sleep affects their daytime activities.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help you get a better night’s sleep by addressing the root cause of your sleep-related issues. DBT can help you establish a sleep routine and may be able to help you get back to bed after a nightmare. This is particularly important if you find yourself waking frequently in the night, as subtle changes to your bedtime routine can make a big difference.

Signs of Poor Sleep

Poor sleep quality can wreak havoc on your mental health and wellbeing. However, it can be difficult to identify the signs of poor sleep if you are unaware of subtle indicators like:

  • Dry mouth or a sore throat;
  • Sore teeth and jaw;
  • Acne breakouts and new blemishes;
  • Sudden mood swings and anxiety;
  • Cravings for junk food and coffee.

These symptoms all point toward poor sleep quality. A dry mouth and a sore jaw are indicators that you likely have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when you experience pauses in your breathing and, as such, end up with a sore, dry mouth in the morning.

You may also experience brain fog if you’re struggling to get enough shut-eye. Trouble concentrating is a tell-tale sign of poor sleep, as the brain becomes easily overworked following a disrupted night. This can also affect your energy levels and leave you feeling unnecessarily grumpy or anxious.

Sleep Hygiene

The quality and duration of your sleep have a huge impact on your mental health and physical wellness. However, you may be at a loss if you’ve struggled with sleep issues for some time.

DBT can increase the likelihood of you getting restful sleep by creating a routine for you to follow. This routine will help you regulate your emotional response to sleep, or lack thereof. This is particularly helpful if you are anxious around bedtime. When following a DBT program, you can use techniques like:

  • 9 – 0 meditation;
  • Body scans;
  • Positive self-talk and reassurance.

Try to keep your room cool and reserve your bed for sleep only. This will help you fall asleep a little quicker and can build a strong, positive association between your bed and sleep time.

Rather than tossing and turning in the night, consider getting up and completing easy tasks if you simply can’t get to sleep. Learning to listen to your body can help you sleep, too. You may not need 8 hours of sleep and could find it stressful to force yourself to get more shut-eye than necessary.


Nightmares are a relatively common phenomenon and, usually, are nothing to worry about. However, if nightmares are interfering with your ability to sleep, you may want to enlist the help of a DBT specialist.

The DBT nightmare protocol is designed to put you in control of your dreams. You are capable of changing how you feel while asleep and can take charge of your imagination. Start by practicing coping skills like relaxation techniques and self-soothing. Then, when you’ve built up some resilience, consider working on a trauma nightmare with a specialist.

You can start working on recurring nightmares by writing down the content of the dream and choosing a new ending. Make sure this change occurs before anything bad happens and feel free to use your full imagination to make changes.

Stress Relief

Working with a sleep specialist can help you identify the root of your insomnia and improve your ability to rest. However, you’ll still need to address stress if you want to really make the most of your time in bed. Consider a few easy stress-relief strategies before bed, like:

  • Belly breathing;
  • Progressive muscle relaxation;
  • Guided Imagery.

If you do have a bad night’s sleep, don’t fret over it. Instead, focus on taking steps to feel more energized during the day. Consider, for example:

  • Eating high-quality proteins and plenty of veggies;
  • Making time for exercise when you feel groggy;
  • Staying hydrated;
  • Cutting out alcohol.

These simple steps can help boost your energy and mitigate your sleep stress. Follow up by speaking to a DBT specialist to address the root cause of your sleep issues.


DBT is a great way to improve your sleep quality. Start by using DBT as part of your sleep routine. This can help you address recurring nightmares and get you in the mood for shut-eye. If you’re still struggling, consider a few techniques like guided meditations, body scans, and belly breathing.


About the Author

Miles Oliver is an independent writer with a background in business and a passion for tech, psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.

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