Does Delta 8 Help You Sleep?

Illustration of a person sleeping on Delta 8 THC tincture bottle
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: January 26, 2023

This article provides a complete guide to using delta-8 for sleep. We explore the health benefits of delta-8 THC on the quality and duration of sleep, breaking down the core mechanisms into bits and pieces. You’ll learn how delta-8 can help you fall asleep faster, how much more time you can get in the deep sleep stage when you take it, and how to avoid potential side effects and a tolerance buildup. After reading this article, you’ll also learn how to choose the best form of delta-8 for your sleep hygiene.

62% of people around the world experience sleep deprivation due to various reasons — and up to 70 million suffer from chronic sleep disorders.

Humans have been using cannabis as a sleep aid for centuries; it’s one of the major benefits of this versatile plant, aside from its antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.

Cannabinoid science has progressed immensely since its beginning, and now we can better understand how different cannabinoids affect sleep.

Recently, delta-8 THC has been making waves thanks to its wide use for sleep disorders. It’s milder than delta-9 THC, carrying a better safety profile and a few unique benefits for the brain.

Here you’ll learn everything about using delta-8 to optimize your inner clock.

Delta-8 for Sleep: An Overview

  • Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid that can be extracted from hemp through conversion from CBD.
  • Delta-8 THC activates the same cannabinoid receptors as delta-9 from marijuana. However, it’s about 50% less potent and carries a lower risk of anxiety and paranoia.
  • People use delta-8 for sleep because it helps them fall asleep faster and spend more time in the deep sleep stage when their body’s restorative processes are at their peak.
  • Delta-8 THC makes you feel uplifted and relaxed. It also helps reduce pain, which is the main obstacle to achieving high-quality sleep.
  • The benefits of delta-8 for sleep are mediated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the master regulatory network in all mammals that regulates essential functions and helps maintain homeostasis in the body.
  • Common side effects of taking too much delta-8 include dizziness, confusion, problems with coordination, dry mouth, and red eyes.
  • Not all delta-8 products are made equal. Never buy delta-8 THC from a brand that doesn’t provide current certificates of analysis (CoAs) from a third-party laboratory.

What Is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is a metabolite of delta-9 that forms when the latter degrades over time. A large share of delta-9 THC transforms into CBN, a mildly psychoactive and potentially sedating cannabinoid. Only a fraction turns into delta-8 THC (1).

Like delta-9, delta-8 THC can promote sleep by increasing your synthesis of melatonin and dopamine. It also reduces nightmares, which is why doctors recommend medical cannabis for trauma-related conditions such as PTSD.

But since there’s only a trace amount of delta-8 in mature cannabis flowers, how do manufacturers produce it on such a large scale?

How Is Delta-8 THC Extracted?

Hemp leaves with water droplets with blurred background

Direct extraction of delta-8 THC is inefficient. Fortunately, cannabis manufacturers have found a way to obtain usable amounts of delta-8 THC from hemp.

They convert CBD into delta-8 THC using specialized acids that catalyze the process.

These chemicals must be completely removed from the end product, which raises safety concerns among consumers due to the lack of regulation regarding the lab testing standards for cannabinoid extracts.

Companies that make high-quality delta-8 products for sleep provide batch-specific Certificates of Analysis (CoAs) from a third-party laboratory that prove the product’s potency and purity.

Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference?

Delta-8 THC is a milder isomer of delta-9 THC. Both compounds have a similar chemical formula, but their structure is slightly different.

Delta-8 THC comes with a double bond at the eighth carbon chain, while delta-9 THC has this bond at the ninth chain. This subtle difference reduces the binding affinity of delta-8 THC to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, making it about 50% less potent than delta-9 THC (2).

You’d need to double your dose of delta-8 THC to achieve the same intensity of effects as with marijuana.

Lower strength also translates into a lower risk of side effects, such as anxiety and paranoia — the two main reasons why people who are highly reactive to delta-9 THC choose to avoid weed.

Related: Delta 8 THC vs. Delta 9 THC vs. Delta 10 THC

What Do People Use Delta-8 THC For?

Although not as well-researched as delta-9, delta-8 THC offers similar health benefits due to their chemical similarities.

People commonly use delta-8 THC to relieve (3):

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of motivation
  • Problems with focus (microdosing)

Related: Benefits of Delta 8 THC

Does Delta-8 THC Help With Sleep?

Yes, there’s sound evidence that THC helps improve sleep quality on three levels.

When you take delta-8 THC:

  • You can fall asleep faster because your brain releases more dopamine and melatonin.
  • You Stay longer in the deep sleep stage.
  • Your brain doesn’t record dreams, which also leads to reduced nightmares

Here we explain the mechanisms governing delta-8 THC’s effects on sleep.

How Delta-8 THC Works for Sleep

The effects of delta-8 THC on the body and brain are mediated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex neurochemical network that works to promote and maintain homeostasis (balance) between your other systems and organs.

It’s your body’s first line of defense between all kinds of imbalances that may lead to the development of various disorders and medical conditions.

The Endocannabinoid System & Its Role in Sleep Regulation

The ECS regulates essential functions, such as immune responses, reactions to stress, pain perception, mood, memory, neurogenesis, fertility, appetite, body temperature, sleep, etc (4).

Its main components are endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes.

The ECS has two kinds of receptors – CB1 and CB2 (5).

The CB1 receptors occur mostly in the brain and central nervous system (CNS) and regulate memory, learning, mood, pain signaling, and motor function.

The CB2 receptors are located in the peripheral nervous system, immune system, and blood. They play a major role in regulating inflammation, immune response, pain, and metabolic processes.

Endocannabinoids are chemical messengers that activate these receptors throughout the body to optimize the above functions.

Once your body uses them, they get broken down by enzymes into metabolites and removed from the body.

How Delta-8 THC Engages With the Endocannabinoid System

The benefits of delta-8 for sleep derive from its interaction with the CB1 receptor.

When it binds to this receptor, it sends messages to increase levels of sleep-promoting adenosine and suppress your brain’s arousal mechanism (6).

This interaction results in reduced sleep latency; in other words, you need less time to fall asleep.

Another benefit of using delta-8 THC for sleep is its ability to alter your sleep architecture. In the short term, delta-8 increases the duration of the deep sleep stage.

However, it reduces the time you spend in the REM stage, which is when dreams and memories form. This feature can be beneficial for people with recurring nightmares, but its effects on healthy individuals remain unknown (7).

Last but not least, delta-8 helps relieve pain and stress. Both factors are known to ravage sleep quality in the long run, so addressing them may contribute to longer and more restorative sleep.

Can Delta-8 Make Your Sleep Worse?

Delta_8 THC tincture with hemp leaves on a light brown background

Some studies found that THC may lead to declined sleep quality in the long run. It’s common for long-term cannabis users to report more sleep issues than for occasional consumers.

However, whether it’s just a correlation or causation is still up for debate. These results may be interpreted in an opposite way, that people with sleep disorders use cannabis to manage the symptoms instead of using pharmaceutical medications.

Types of Delta-8 Products for Sleep

If you want to use delta-8 for sleep, knowing different product types will help you choose the right format for your health needs and lifestyle.

The most popular forms of delta-8 are:

  • Delta-8 vapes: you can buy them as ready-made vape pens or as single cartridges that you can attach to a standard 510 vaporizer battery. They contain high levels of delta-8 THC and terpenes to leverage the entourage effect and modulate the effect of delta-8 for sleep. The effects of delta-8 vapes take hold within minutes after your last puff and should last for up to 3-4 hours.
  • Delta-8 flower: these products are actually CBD hemp flowers sprayed with delta-8 distillate for an additional psychoactive buzz. CBD also works synergistically with delta-8, enhancing its therapeutic potency and reducing the risk of overwhelming side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and increased heart rate.
  • Delta-8 tinctures: like CBD oil, you take delta-8 tinctures under the tongue. From there, you hold them for about 60 seconds and swallow. Tinctures kick in after 30-45 minutes and last for up to 6 hours. They come with special glass droppers for more accurate and convenient dosing.
  • Delta-8 edibles: products like delta-8 gummies and honey sticks come with a predetermined dose of delta-8. They hit with a slight delay because delta-8 must pass through the liver first. You may need to wait for up to 90 minutes to experience the cognitive effects of delta-8. Edibles may also act stronger because they pass through the blood-brain barrier more effectively.

[Best Delta 8 Gummies for Sleep]

Delta-8 THC Dosage for Sleep

Delta-8 THC products come in different dosages, ranging between 10–60 mg per serving.

10 mg can induce mild psychoactive effects and ease mild stresses. You can also use such amounts to improve your focus during the day and become more productive. Doing so will help recalibrate your circadian rhythm.

Doses upwards of 40 mg work better for evening use when you can unwind and enjoy the calming effects. They will also make you feel more sleepy.

Whenever you experience adverse effects, such as confusion, dizziness, or feel anxious after taking delta-8 THC, decrease the dosage or add CBD to your routine to balance out the psychoactive potential of delta-8.

Is Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC Better for Sleep?

Delta-9 THC may produce stronger effects and make you feel more sleepy than delta-8, but it comes with a risk of occasional mental discomfort. When delta-9 THC backfires on you, it may compromise your sleep quality.

The silver lining for delta-8 THC is that it doesn’t have such strong binding affinity to the CB1 receptors. While its psychoactive effects are milder, it’s difficult to go overboard and experience the aforementioned distress.

Is Delta-8 or CBD Better for Sleep?

Bottles of CBD and Delta 8 with hemp leaf on an off white backgound

Delta-8 THC can work synergistically with CBD to improve your sleep quality.

CBD increases your natural levels of anandamide — the major endocannabinoid that interacts with the CB1 receptor. Higher concentrations of anandamide are associated with elevated mood, optimized circadian rhythm, higher pain threshold, and better stress response (8).

Low doses of CBD can also increase your alertness in the morning, making you more focused and productive during the day (9). This way, your inner clock can work according to the daily rhythm, ensuring healthy production of melatonin (your natural sleep hormone).

High doses, on the other hand, reduce blood pressure and slow down your breathing, making it easier to calm down and fall asleep at night (10).

Not to mention that CBD counteracts the psychotropic potential of THC, preventing the overexcitation of the nervous system (11).

Related: Delta-8 THC vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?

Is Delta-8 or CBN Better for Sleep?

CBN is a mildly psychoactive compound that comes with alleged sedating properties. However, it’s unclear whether it’s CBN on its own or its ability to enhance the potency of sleep-inducing terpenes that creates such effects in users (12).

You can try adding CBN to your routine — e.g., in the evening, together with delta-8 — and see how it affects your sleep.

What Terpenes Work Best With Delta-8 for Sleep?

Terpenes are responsible for the distinctive aromas and flavors of cannabis strains, but they also share their unique health benefits and amplify the therapeutic potential of the major cannabinoids.

This synergy has been described in the scientific literature as the “entourage effect” and is the main reason why people prefer full-spectrum products over purified extracts.

  • Myrcene: it’s the most abundant terpene in cannabis strains; you can also find it in mangoes, lemongrass, cherries, and basil. It offers relaxing properties and increases the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, enhancing the effects of THC (13).
  • Beta-caryophyllene: it’s a peppery terpene found in cannabis, as well as in cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, and cloves. It binds to cannabinoid receptors, enhancing the anti-inflammatory and calming properties of cannabinoids (14).
  • Linalool: you can find linalool in lavender, mint, cinnamon, and coriander. It’s been clinically proven to reduce anxiety, as well as depression, and insomnia (15).
  • Beta-pinene: this terpene comes with anti-anxiety and memory-supporting properties. You can find it in pine trees, rosemary, eucalyptus, cumin, and basil (16).
  • Terpinolene: while not as abundant as other terpenes, terpinolene offers significant anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and sedating properties. It also occurs in cumin, parsnip, apples, jasmine, and tea tree oil (17).

Final Verdict: Should You Take Delta-8 THC for Sleep?

So, does delta-8 help you sleep better?

The above evidence, as well as anecdotal reports from cannabis users, suggest that delta-8 can be a relatively safe and effective sleep remedy.

It targets the same receptors as delta-9 THC, but it’s not as strong — hence the lower risk of side effects and its potential negative impact on sleep in the long run.

Delta-8 THC comes in various forms; for the fastest effect, I recommend vapes, especially those infused with relaxing and sedating terpenes.

If you know your tolerance to delta-8 THC and are looking for a stronger psychoactive buzz, edibles are a better bet. Not only do they hit you harder, but their effects also last longer.

Tinctures are the middle ground between these two formats.

No matter which product type you choose, always do your due diligence when you buy delta-8 for sleep; check user reviews and read CoAs to avoid scammers and ensure a well-thought-out purchase.

Sources:

  1. Arno Hazekamp, Justin T. Fischedick, Mónica Llano Díez, Andrea Lubbe, Renee L. Ruhaak, 3.24 – Chemistry of Cannabis. Editor(s): Hung-Wen (Ben) Liu, Lew Mander, Comprehensive Natural Products II, Elsevier, 2010, Pages 1033-1084.
  2. Tagen, M., & Klumpers, L. E. (2022). Review of delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8 -THC): Comparative pharmacology with Δ9 -THC. British journal of pharmacology, 179(15), 3915–3933. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.15865
  3. Kruger, D. J., & Kruger, J. S. (2021). Consumer Experiences with Delta-8-THC: Medical Use, Pharmaceutical Substitution, and Comparisons with Delta-9-THC. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 10.1089/can.2021.0124. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2021.0124
  4. Mouslech, Z., & Valla, V. (2009). Endocannabinoid system: An overview of its potential in current medical practice. Neuro endocrinology letters, 30(2), 153–179.
  5. Zou, S., & Kumar, U. (2018). Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(3), 833. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030833
  6. Kesner, A. J., & Lovinger, D. M. (2020). Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids and Sleep. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience, 13, 125 (6).
  7. Gates, P. J., Albertella, L., & Copeland, J. (2014). The effects of cannabinoid administration on sleep: a systematic review of human studies. Sleep medicine reviews, 18(6), 477–487. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.02.005
  8. Deutsch D. G. (2016). A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs). Frontiers in pharmacology, 7, 370. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2016.00370
  9. Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Sarro-Ramírez, A., Sánchez, D., Mijangos-Moreno, S., Tejeda-Padrón, A., Poot-Aké, A., Guzmán, K., Pacheco-Pantoja, E., & Arias-Carrión, O. (2014). Potential effects of cannabidiol as a wake-promoting agent. Current neuropharmacology, 12(3), 269–272. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X11666131204235805
  10. Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI insight, 2(12), e93760. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93760
  11. Hudson, R., Renard, J., Norris, C., Rushlow, W. J., & Laviolette, S. R. (2019). Cannabidiol Counteracts the Psychotropic Side-Effects of Δ-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in the Ventral Hippocampus through Bidirectional Control of ERK1-2 Phosphorylation. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 39(44), 8762–8777. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0708-19.2019
  12. Corroon J. (2021). Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 6(5), 366–371 (12).
  13. Surendran, S., Qassadi, F., Surendran, G., Lilley, D., & Heinrich, M. (2021). Myrcene-What Are the Potential Health Benefits of This Flavouring and Aroma Agent?. Frontiers in nutrition, 8, 699666 (13).
  14. Galdino, P. M., Nascimento, M. V., Florentino, I. F., Lino, R. C., Fajemiroye, J. O., Chaibub, B. A., de Paula, J. R., de Lima, T. C., & Costa, E. A. (2012). The anxiolytic-like effect of an essential oil derived from Spiranthera odoratissima A. St. Hil. leaves and its major component, β-caryophyllene, in male mice. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 38(2), 276–284. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.04.012
  15. Xu, L., Li, X., Zhang, Y., Ding, M., Sun, B., Su, G., & Zhao, Y. (2021). The effects of linalool acupoint application therapy on sleep regulation. RSC advances, 11(11), 5896–5902 (15).
  16. Weston-Green, K., Clunas, H., & Jimenez Naranjo, C. (2021). A Review of the Potential Use of Pinene and Linalool as Terpene-Based Medicines for Brain Health: Discovering Novel Therapeutics in the Flavours and Fragrances of Cannabis. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 583211 (16).
  17. Ito, K., & Ito, M. (2011). Sedative effects of vapor inhalation of the essential oil of Microtoena patchoulii and its related compounds. Journal of natural medicines, 65(2), 336–343. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11418-010-0502-x

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.