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QUESTION: My 72-year-old mother is taking 10mg of CBD in MCT oil every night before bed to help her stay asleep, but it’s not really working. She still wakes up every few hours, and doesn’t feel rested in the morning. Should we increase her dose?

The first place to start is to make sure there’s no underlying health issue causing your mom’s poor sleeps. If she hasn’t seen a doctor to ensure it’s not sleep apnea or some other type of sleep disorder, then that’s the first place to start!

But assuming her doctor has given the all clear, there are a couple different things that could help her achieve a more restorative sleep, and they each depend on the factors causing the poor sleeps. If you don’t know already, have a conversation with your mom and ask about the reasons she wakes up. Is she feeling anxious? Is she in pain? Is there no real reason, just lots of waking up?

Understanding the cause of sleeplessness is the first step to solving it

CBD helps to reduce both anxiety and general pain from inflammation, each of which can interfere with a good night’s rest. If your mom is having trouble sleeping because of anxiety, then it’s a good idea to avoid too much THC, which can cause anxiety, and increase her dose of CBD instead. Try increasing it by 2.5mg a night for a few nights to see if it helps. It’s important to know that some stomachs can be sensitive to too much CBD, so keep an eye out for that, and revert to her standard dose if it becomes a problem.

You can also try adding a very small amount of THC oil to her CBD oil, perhaps with 1 mg of THC with her nightly dose of CBD, or even 0.5mg of THC. If she’s able to tolerate the effects without increasing her anxiety, then you can increase her THC by 1 mg each night, until she sleeps better.

If anxiety is not the underlying causes of her insomnia, she probably will find taking more THC along with her (or instead of) CBD to be most effective, since THC helps both with sleep and pain management.

The effects of cannabis are unique to each person, so the optimal ratio of THC to CBD will be unique to each consumer and condition. While you’re finding the best dose for her, you want to follow the rule “start low and go slow“. I usually recommend that people who are new to THC start with 2mg for their first dose, taken half-an-hour before bedtime. If better sleep is achieved, great! If not, you can increase the dose by 2mg each night until she sleeps better, or the effects become too strong for her. Some possible effects of increasing the THC dose too much could be intoxication before she falls asleep, which will actually make it more difficult for her to get to sleep, or grogginess the next morning, which usually goes away with a cup of coffee or ginseng tea.