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Can CBD Help with My Insomnia?

Studies look promising for the treatment of stress-related sleep problems.

By Mary Clifton, M.D.

Insomnia, defined as an inability to sleep and habitual sleeplessness, is common in all phases of life, but especially during middle age, when people have considerable stress at work in addition to family stressors and living conditions that limit a quality sleep environment. It’s hard to sleep when financial worries loom and there’s a teenager out past curfew or a toddler in the bed with you. 

In my 25 years of internal medical practice, I’ve found that the answers to two questions are especially indicative of significant insomnia or another sleep disorder needing medical treatment: Do you feel like you could take a nap before noon? Do you wake up feeling refreshed and restored? If you answer yes to the first question and/or no to the second question, it’s time to seek help for your insomnia.

Help might be found in CBD or another cannabinoid formulation. Published surveys that monitored patients’ responses to individual treatment with CBD have shown excellent results in alleviating insomnia. 

My favorite study on insomnia involved a group of patients who were dealing with psychiatric conditions; most were also dealing with PTSD. Patients in this study were averaging only about five hours of sleep per night and having intrusive thoughts and nightmares an average of five nights per week. With the administration of a cannabinoid formulation, they were sleeping seven hours per night and having nightmares once per week. CBD appears to be a powerful treatment for insomnia and intrusive dreams in psychiatric patients with PTSD. It could certainly be considered for use in people with insomnia related to mild, ongoing anxiety and stress.

Of course, depending on the intensity of your sleep problem and the size of your pocketbook, you might consider further, more intense sleep evaluation with an app or wearable device or an overnight sleep study with a specialist who can identify any underlying health issues. For example, many people over the years experience weight gain that leads to obstructive sleep apnea, and metabolic disorders like diabetes, or exposure to toxins like alcohol or chemotherapy, can lead to nerve damage and restless leg syndrome. 

A comprehensive evaluation with your physician is always a good idea to ensure that you’re barking up the right tree when you’re considering CBD. 

Mary Clifton, M.D., is a night owl living in New York City. To follow her work, visit


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