September 10, 2021 5 min read

You may have heard that CBD and CBN are useful for sleep, but what about Delta-8-THC? Does Delta-8 make you sleepy? Is it useful for combating sleep issues? Can you still use it during the day when feeling tired isn't really a great option?

All good questions!

We're still learning about Delta-8-THC's effects, but many people report it to be less sedating than traditional Delta-9-THC products. Still, others report success using Delta-8-THC to quell them to sleep. So, what's the truth about Delta-8? Here's what we know:

Table of Contents
What are Delta-8’s Effects on Sleep?
How Delta 8 Interacts With the Body
Delta-8 vs Delta-9 for Sleep
Terpenes and Sleep
What are the Best Delta-8 Products for Sleep?
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-8-THC is generally less sedating than traditional THC products, but it may still help improve sleep.
  • More research is needed to understand Delta-8’s impact on sleep, but anecdotal reports are positive.
  • Consider an indica-dominant Delta-8-THC product if you want to relax or support sleep.

What are Delta-8-THC’s Effects on Sleep?

The quick answer here is that Delta-8 is not necessarily sedating, but it may help manage some of the ailments that disrupt sleep. In other words, Delta-8-THC is unlikely to make you uncontrollably sleepy, but it may support your efforts to fall asleep, if that's what you're going for.

A bottle of Delta-8-THC oil, which some people use as a sleep aid.

Many people assume that since Delta-8 is psychoactive like Delta-9, it is equally sedating. (In truth, some of the "sedative effect" of traditional cannabis products may also depend on terpenes, but we'll get to that later).

It's true that Delta-8 is psychoactive, but not to the same extent as Delta-9-THC. Delta-8's milder effects may be why many people describe it to be less sedating than traditional THC products. That said, the effects may be stronger for those who have no experience with psychoactive cannabis products, and therefore no tolerance to THC. The strength of Delta-8's effects are also dose dependent, meaning the effects are stronger with larger doses.

Many people describe the experience as uplifting, relaxing, and euphoric, but also note a significant "body buzz" that isn't always experienced with traditional THC products. Delta 8's effects are dependent on the way it interacts with the Endocannabinoid System, which can also help us understand how Delta-8 affects sleep.

How Delta-8 Interacts With the Body

The endocannabinoid system is a system of neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors that send and receive messages to help maintain homeostasis within the body. Research shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating most important bodily functions, including:

  • Sleep
  • Brain function/memory
  • Metabolism
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Inflammation
  • Pain signaling

Delta-8 and other hemp cannabinoids interact with the Endocannabinoid System because they are molecularly similar to endocannabinoids, a type of neurotransmitter that is naturally produced by the body. That means that hemp-derived cannabinoids can act in the place of endocannabinoids to alter the way the Endocannabinoid System functions.

Without getting too technical, the Endocannabinoid System is composed of two important sections—CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and central nervous system, and are responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids. CB2 receptors are primarily located within the peripheral nervous system and impact the immune system throughout the body.

Some cannabinoids have a strong affinity for only one of these portions. Delta-9, for instance, interacts primarily with CB1 receptors, which is why it's known for having potent psychoactive effects. Delta-8, on the other hand, interacts with both portions of the endocannabinoid system. This is likely why the psychoactive effects are milder, since a portion of the dose interacts with CB2 receptors that don't produce psychoactive effects.

Thanks to its unique interactions in the body, Delta-8 has its own therapeutic effects, including some therapeutic potential for sleep. Let's look at the research:

A woman sleeping well after a dose of Delta-8

CB1 Activation Linked to Sleep

Research has shown that the CB1 receptor plays a crucial role in the regulation of sleep cycles. Because Delta-8-THC is thought to activate the CB1 receptor, it may help regulate these sleep cycles and induce sleep, although more research is needed to understand this potential effect.

Delta-8 May Induce Sleep in Animals

A 1973 study looked at the impact of Delta-8-THC for sleep, albeit the test subjects were cats. The study, which involved intravenous doses of Delta-8-THC, found that the cannabinoid induced sedation in cats and increased the length of the REM sleep cycle. The REM cycle is responsible for dreaming and various cognitive and memory functions. The study concluded that the sedative effects of Delta-8 were similar to that of Delta-9, but with fewer potential drawbacks (like anxiety).

Of course, animal studies don’t always translate to human trials, but this research does give us some indication of Delta-8’s potential for sleep enhancement.

Delta-8 May Indirectly Enhance Sleep

It’s also possible that Delta-8 may help with sleep by controlling ailments that make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. The National Cancer Institute describes Delta-8-THC as an “analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”

These characteristics may be significant to anyone who experiences sleep disruptions due to symptoms of pain or anxiety. One study showed Delta-8-THC to be effective in reducing both pain and inflammation in mice due to corneal injuries, and experts suggest that Delta-8 may have even greater potential for managing pain.

Additionally, experts frequently describe Delta-8-THC as "anxiolytic," meaning it may help quell anxieties that keep you awake at night. Delta-8-THC’s benefits for anxiety haven’t yet been proven, but are heavily supported by anecdotal reports.

Delta-8 vs Delta-9 for Sleep

Delta-9-THC products are frequently linked to sedative effects, and it's common to hear someone say that they use THC products to help them sleep at night. As we mentioned above, Delta-8 has similar effects to Delta-09, but the psychoactivity is less intense. So how do the two compare when used as a sleep aid?

Many people suggest that Delta-8 is a gentler option that may help relax you into a soft, refreshing sleep. It may support sleep by reducing some discomforts that may interrupt sleep at night. Alternately, Delta-9 may induce a heavier sleep, and some people report feeling groggy after using Delta-9 for sleep.

In reality, it's all about preference, but Delta-8 does have one significant advantage for many users—it's federally legal and much more accessible than Delta-9 in most states.

Don't Forget About Terpenes

In your search for a cannabis or hemp product to help with sleep, it's crucial that you also consider the importance of terpenes. In fact, terpenes may play an important role in the sedative-like effects of many THC products.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give cannabis it's fragrance, but they also have their own set of therapeutic effects. For instance, myrcene is commonly regarded as a potential sleep-aid.

Terpenes are used in the strain profiling process for certain Delta-8-THC products. For instance, Delta-8-THC vaporizers may have certain terpenes added to provide more targeted benefits, like relaxing effects. Pay attention to the addition of terpenes in your Delta-8 products, and try to choose indica-based products for sleep.

What are the Best Delta-8-THC Products for Sleep?

The best Delta-8-THC products for sleep is truly a matter of preference, and for some it boils down to dosing style. For instance, Delta-8-THC tinctures and sublingual-style edibles take effect rather quickly, usually in 30 minutes or less.

For others, a relaxation-targeted product is more effective at supporting sleep than the general Delta-8-THC products. We recommend our Indica Delta-8-THC vaporizer, or any relaxing strain of Delta-8-THC Flower, like Royal Purple Kush or Bubba Kush.

Vida Optima Elev8 Delta-8-THC Tincture

Resources

  1. “The role of the CB1 receptor in the regulation of sleep” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18514375/
  2. “The effects of delta8-THC on the EEG, reticular multiple unit activity and sleep of cats”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4358207/
  3. “NCI Thesaurus: Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Code C61312)” https://ncit.nci.nih.gov/ncitbrowser/ConceptReport.jsp?dictionary=NCI_Thesaurus&ns=NCI_Thesaurus&code=C61312
  4. “The Cannabinoids Δ8THC, CBD, and HU-308 Act via Distinct Receptors to Reduce Corneal Pain and Inflammation” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812319/

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