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Ask a Cannabis Nurse: I didn’t like pot when I was young. Can it help me sleep now?

Ask a Cannabis Nurse: I didn’t like pot when I was young. Can it help me sleep now?

By: Natural Care

In our first Ask a Cannabis Nurse column, Natural Care’s director of patient care, Karen Newell, answers a reader’s question about cannabis for sleep.

Our readers ask:

I had a stressful job for decades, and a few weeks after I retired, I fell and broke my hip. Between work and pain from hip surgery, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years. I’ve tried sleeping pills, and they help a bit, but then I’m groggy the whole next day. My sister-in-law can’t stop raving about medical marijuana for sleep, but I smoked a few joints back in high school and they made me anxious and wired. I want to believe, but I’m skeptical – how do I know if cannabis will work for me?

-Sleepless in Sarnia

Our nurse answers:

Sorry to hear about your insomnia, Sleepless. As you well know, it can be a devastating condition with major consequences for physical and mental health.

As for cannabis as a potential treatment, I’ve got some good news and some complicated news for you. The good news is that the joints you smoked in high school are unlikely to predict how you’ll react to cannabis now.

Many factors influence how we respond to cannabis – hormones, time of day, what we’ve had to eat, etc – and those responses change as we age.

It’s also important to know that cannabis is not one medicine, it’s thousands! Different strains have different properties, depending on their exact balance of cannabinoids (such as CBD and THC) and the terpenes, or essential oils, they contain.

I can’t say for sure why the joints you smoked in high school made you feel anxious and wired, but my guess is that they probably contained more THC than your body likes, and potentially some energizing terpenes as well.

That’s the good news! The complicated news is that the only way to know what cannabis products might help you sleep better is to try.

In general, most of my insomnia patients have success with a low dose of THC before bedtime, but I’ve had some who see remarkable improvement taking CBD during the day. Since CBD is non-intoxicating, I’ll often start there, and add THC if needed. Of course, I’ll always look at a patient’s medical conditions, as well as any prescriptions they might be on before suggesting a starting dose, but the general rule of thumb is start low, go slow and see how it goes. In your case, I’d want to learn more about your hip surgery – if pain is the main thing keeping you awake, then I’d want to see what we can do to address that first.

Cannabis has a pretty good record with chronic pain and insomnia. I can’t guarantee it will help with your specific issues, but I can confidently say we’ve come a long way since high school!

To your health,


Karen Newell is Natural Care’s director of patient care, and a registered practical nurse with over 40 years’ combined experience in hospitals, specialized pharmacy and long-term care and retirement.

Send your questions to outreach@naturalcaregroup.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or keep an eye on this page for the answer.

*Reader questions are lightly edited for space and coherence.

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At Natural Care we provide medical cannabis service for individuals, long-term care and retirement homes. Our mission is simple: Improving quality of life with medical cannabis.
Our free services include: in-person and online prescription visits, personalized cannabis medication plans, and ongoing nurse and educator support for the life of every prescription.
We customize our support to suit each situation, acting as a connector for patients, residents and their families, senior living staff, primary care physicians, licensed producers of cannabis, and other stakeholders as needed. Whether we’re helping an individual or their appointed caregiver manage dosing and ordering, assisting a nurse with administering cannabis to a patient or resident, or educating senior living staff, our services are always free.

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