Look for chemovars/cultivars higher in myrcene, labeled as ‘indicas’ or for nighttime/relaxation. full spectrum CBD taken throughout the day can also help with sleep by reducing cortisol and stress response.




Supporting and restoring healthy sleep is one of the foundations of resilience medicine. Without healthy sleep, it is much harder for the brain to change and for our bodies and immune systems to adapt under stress. Getting better sleep is one of the most effective single things you can do to improve your brain function in terms of cognition and emotional regulation. Good sleep can even improve your emotional intelligence and productivity and support you in having a novel, innovative, and creative ideas. 

Not everyone has the same issues with sleep, although most people will have experienced one of the following most likely at some point: 

  • trouble falling asleep, 
  • trouble staying asleep, 
  • waking up in the night or very early morning and not being able to fall back asleep easily,
  • fragmented light sleep where you are aware of things and wake up feeling still tired 
  • trouble sticking to the same bedtime or getting to bed before midnight (which can disrupt the brain and body’s natural 24 hr clock. 

Just One Night of Poor Sleep Can:

  • Affect your mood – a lack of high-quality sleep makes it harder to regulate your emotions, worsens depression and may even cause it in some cases. It can also impair the brain’s ability to interact socially and respond to facial expressions appropriately, limiting positive social interactions. It also causes the brain to interpret your environment in a more negative and even threatening light.
  • It worsens anxiety and brain ‘wind up’ or overarousal, increasing the fight or flight brain networks and stress hormone levels.
  • It impairs memory and focus and the ability to ignore distractions to focus on a task. Longer-term sleep issues also increase the risk of early dementia and memory problems.
  • It worsens fatigue and daytime exhaustion, leading to a vicious cycle of relying on caffeine during the day and substances like alcohol and, in some cases sleeping pills to unwind at night. These interventions further disrupt healthy sleep patterns and worsen the problem, making it hard to stop these things.

Poor Sleep is A 24-hour Problem, Not Just a Nighttime Problem

Poor sleep affects multiple specific areas of brain function – not just at night but when you are awake too. When we don’t sleep well, it can lead to chronic nervous system ‘hyperarousal’, keeping us unable to wind back down properly, which is how the brain recovers or bounces back.

Chronic poor sleep, or insomnia, is associated with a 24-hour increase of corticotropin and cortisol secretion (stress hormones), increased inflammatory markers, disrupted brain calming chemicals (such as a neurotransmitter called GABA).

Insomnia is also associated with other brain issues such as HPA axis dysfunction, the stress regulation system, with cortisol peaking at the wrong time of day, making it harder to sleep easily and harder to wake up and feel energized in the mornings.

Another brain network called the RAS (reticular activating system), which is in charge of wakefulness, but should become quiet during sleep, can become hypervigilant at the wrong time (e.g. at night time when you are trying to sleep.) This RAS dysfunction is associated with many chronic health conditions, including ADHD, depression, and dementia. Other brain areas such as the thalamus, whose job it is to regulate how much stimulation the brain responds a bit like the brain’s pacemaker – is also affected by poor sleep.

A lot is going on in the brain to give us a good night’s sleep vs what is going wrong when sleep gets out of balance.

Chronic poor sleep and sleep deprivation also activate the brain’s microglia, the special brain immune cells. This activated microglia releases pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines and contribute to neuro or brain inflammation and impair the immune response. This explains why it may feel like you are always prone to illness after a period of poor sleep. Sleep is essential to proper immune system function and to keeping inflammation in check in both the brain (which impacts mental health for all types) and the body (physical health).

Even if you suffer from issues seemingly unrelated to sleep, in most cases restoring deep sleep is crucial to the healing process, and many people don’t even realize how disrupted their sleep is until they start to work on it.

The Resilience Medicine Approach to Sleep Problems

Cannabinoids-CBD dosed during the day and earlier evening to help with high cortisol levels, full spectrum hemp-CBD, myrcene and micro doses of THC, medical cannabis containing THC can all help support sleep. Biological Tools include things that help the body and mind wind down at the right time and buffer daytime high-stress levels to not impact sleep.

BioData + Habit Tracking


  • The Resilience Medicine diet principles-this may help with your sleep wake cycles and circadian hormone regulation by normalising insulin regulation
  • Take a caffeine holiday-even a bit in the morning can fragment your deep sleep if you metabolise it slowly.
  • Take an alcohol holiday-alcohol universally disrupts sleep architecture even one glass for many if not most people.
  • Work on stopping smoking or decreasing nicotine from other sources
  • Include foods high in tryptophan, a building block for serotonin, especially at dinner
  • Eat your last big meal before 7 pm (6:30 pm is ideal)
  • If you are still hungry later in the evening, avoid sugary snacks and choose a handful of nuts instead.


Many people living with sleep disorders find nutraceuticals and botanical supplements can help, including:

  • L Theanine
  • Hypnotic/sedative herbs combined with nervine tonic herbs including skullcap, valerian, passionflower, hops
  • High Absorption Magnesium
  • Ashwagandha (especially good to help with stress and women’s health) in the daytime to decrease high stress levels, synergy with cannabinoids/cbd
  • Alpha-s1 casein hydrolysate

mind-body Tools

Many forms of relaxation practices can help decrease the nervous system overarousal during the daytime, contributing to worse sleep at night. Practices that engage the breathing muscle called the diaphragm can help activate the calming vagus nerve or the rest and digest arm of the nervous system, such as many forms of breathwork.

If you have more body noise and tension, then a physical body-focused practice in bed for 5 minutes is recommended. Some other simple ones include:

  • PMR-progressive muscular relaxation-great for reducing ‘body noise’, e.g. tension and physical symptoms of anxiety
  • Autonomic Training – another physical body-focused practice to calm body noise
  • Simple, gentle yin or restorative yoga poses done with dim lighting in the evening.
  • Breath focused mini-meditation minutes throughout the day, focusing on a longer exhale than inhale and experimenting with a few seconds of holding the breath at the top of the inhale.
  • Candle gazing meditation in the evening after shutting off electronic screens in a darkened room
  • Sleep hygiene: turn off all electronic screens at least 2.5 hours before bedtime, use blue light blocking glasses, change light bulbs to low blue light bulbs in the bedroom, use blackout blinds, sleep masks and earplugs for decreased sensory input, try a calming scent in a room to induce a feeling of mental relaxation and avoid working in the bedroom (or at least in the bed itself if a desk in the bedroom is necessary for work from home), remove clutter from the bedroom, use an air purifier and air cleaning plants in the bedroom to improve air quality.

Apps, BioData and Habit Tracking:

You can track your daytime energy and mood and the Resilience Medicine sleep reset protocol to see how your sleep improves over time. The Resilience Medicine App is a free tool developed over a decade of practice treating patients using a quality of life approach. It can help you track how you feel in the four main Resilience Medicine areas of mood, stress/anxiety, energy, and mental clarity.

“Sleep and circadian rhythm reset are critical to many of the conditions I treat from burnout to chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and chronic pain.  Sleep is when the brain repairs and we need the right type of sleep at the right time of night to optimize resilience, reduce inflammation and premature brain ageing as well as heal from a variety of health conditions.  Most people I see have an issue with sleep, even though they may not even have realized it until we improve it and they notice how much better they feel during the day! ”   The answer for most sleep issues isn’t sleeping pills or Z drugs’ at least long term, but a natural evidence-based approach which often includes cannabinoids, which tend to work better for my patients than sleeping drugs with fewer side effects and have brain-protective effects.

Dr Dani Gordon, Founder of Resilience Medicine
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