Insomnia Relief With Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC: Which Component Works Best

You need sleep for your body to function correctly. Yet according to the CDC, 1 in 3 American adults don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of shuteye, plagued by insomnia and restlessness. 

Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, has a clear connection to sleep and relaxation. But hemp-derived Delta-8 THC has gained popularity as a sleep aid as well.

So, is Delta 8 or Delta 9 better for insomnia relief? This detailed guide compares their molecular profile and sleep aid efficacy while recommending products and dosages to help you get a full night’s rest. 

Insomnia Relief With Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC: Which Component Works Best

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9: Effects And Benefits

Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC are forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC for short), the active chemical compound that gives cannabis its intoxicating effects. Delta-9 is much more prominent in cannabis plants, but both compounds ( known as cannabinoids) are naturally occurring. 

How Does Delta 9 Work?

Delta-9 THC stimulates human receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the central regulatory communication network that helps your body maintain homeostasis. Delta 9 mainly activates CB1 receptors throughout the brain and central nervous system, activating various chemical signalling that results in its trademark “high.”

Some well-known benefits of Delta 9 THC’s CB1 receptor activation include:

  • Euphoria
  • Stress relief
  • Pain and inflammation relief
  • Nausea relief
  • Hunger and appetite stimulation
  • Relaxation and sleepiness

How Does Delta 8 Work And Differ From Delta 9?

Delta 8 THC also occurs naturally in cannabis but in trace amounts, making it difficult to extract from the plant. That’s why manufacturers produce Delta 8 by chemically converting legal hemp-derived CBD into this psychoactive compound using proprietary solvent-based formulas. This semi-synthetic process produces an identical Delta-8 molecule used in most retail products today. 

Chemically, Delta 8 is only slightly different from Delta 9. It shares many of Delta 9 THC’s psychoactive effects and known benefits, including euphoria, pain and nausea relief, anxiety relief, and relaxation. It also likely acts on the same neural receptors but with a slightly weaker bond. 

The main differences in Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC are their potency level and legal status. 

  • Delta 8’s molecular structure makes it about 50% less potent than Delta 9.
  • Marijuana-derived Delta 9 THC is a Schedule I drug and is federally illegal. Hemp-derived Delta-9 is also strictly regulated to no more than 0.3% by dry weight.
  • On the other hand, Delta 8 THC is federally legal, whether from marijuana or hemp, at any potency. Still, several states have banned the compound due to its psychoactive properties. 
Insomnia Relief With Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC: Which Component Works Best

How Does Delta 9 THC Help With Insomnia?

In general, users say high-THC cannabis strains make them sleepy. When Delta 9 binds with receptors in the brain, sleep-promoting effects occur:

  • Adenosine levels increase (a chemical that promotes sleep), and the brain’s arousal system suppresses—a combination that can make you sleepy.
  • Dopamine levels increase (a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy), which increases melatonin production, your body’s natural sleep hormone.

As a result of THC’s adenosine and dopamine-boosting properties: 

It helps you fall asleep faster: Reports suggest that THC decreases sleep latency or the time it takes you to fall asleep. 

Increases deep sleep: A study found that Delta 9 THC increased the time spent in stage 4 deep sleep, which helps you wake up feeling refreshed. 

Reduces nightmares: Delta 9 THC decreases the time spent in REM sleep, suppressing nightmares, a common cause of insomnia.

Relieves pain and stress: Chronic pain and stress often lead to sleep disorders. A survey of nearly 1,300 people with chronic health conditions found those using medicinal cannabis reported less pain, reduced anxiety, and better sleep. 

Delta 9 THC: Risks And Side Effects For Sleep

It’s important to note that Delta 9 THC might also cause adverse side effects related to sleep.

  • For some people, Delta 9 THC can increase anxiety and cause paranoia, making it harder to drift off. 
  • Long-term, regular use of Delta 9 THC can sometimes lead to anxiety-related mood disorders. Also, experts believe that dreaming helps you process emotions and solidify specific memories, so suppressing REM sleep over the long term is not ideal. 

How Does Delta 8 THC Compare To Delta-9 for Sleep?

According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta 8 THC products interact with CB1 receptors like Delta 9 THC. As a result, hemp-derived Delta 8 THC also induces a “high” feeling and shares many of Delta 9’s therapeutic and sleep-promoting benefits, including:

  • Increasing the synthesis of dopamine and melatonin
  • Reducing nightmares
  • Easing anxiety and working as a powerful stress reliever
  • Relieving chronic and temporary pain

Delta 8 THC: A Milder Experience and Fewer Adverse Effects

Research into Delta 8’s effects is still limited, yet users swear by its benefits. Delta 8 appears to have a lower affinity for binding with CB1 receptors than Delta 9 THC, making it about half as potent. However, Delta 8 produces blissful, euphoric, and physically relaxing effects, similar to low doses of THC. 

  • Most consumers say Delta 8 is noticeably milder than Delta 9 and has an “indica-like” high due to its soothing properties. 
  • Its lower potency means Delta-8-THC may provide many of Delta-9’s benefits but with fewer adverse effects, such as paranoia. 
Insomnia Relief With Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC: Which Component Works Best

Best THC Products Types For Insomnia

There are numerous ways to consume Delta 9 and Delta 8 THC for insomnia. Smoking cannabis flower is the most common method for Delta-9. But vapes, oils, tinctures, and edibles are excellent sources of both THC compounds. Products that contain terpenes like myrcene and linalool are even more effective for sleep because these essential oil-like compounds also function as sedatives. 

All delivery methods can support better sleep, but edibles offer unique benefits. 

  • Stronger effects: Edibles can feel more intense than smoking or vaping due to how the body digests the psychoactive compounds. When consuming Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC edibles, the liver breaks them down into a more potent form called 11-Hydroxy-THC. This process produces more intense sedative effects. 
  • Longer-lasting effects: Inhaling cannabis has an immediate impact. However, the results also wear off quickly. Edibles infused with Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC typically last 4 to 12 hours, which can help you sleep through the night. 

Dosage Recommendations For Insomnia

The proper dosage varies from person to person. First-time users should always start with a low dose and gradually build up to the desired experience. For Delta 9 THC edibles, a low dose is often 2-5 mg. 

However, since Delta 8 is about half the strength of Delta 9, most Delta 8 products come in doses two to three times higher. For instance, edible gummies with 5 mg of Delta 9 THC will have an equivalent dose of 10-15 mg for Delta 8. 

Even though the relative dose is the same, Delta-8 effects typically take longer to set in. 

The Bottom Line

Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC have much to offer regarding insomnia relief. They can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Both also assist with many issues that cause sleep disorders, such as chronic pain, anxiety, and nightmares. Despite the limited clinical research, user reports indicate Delta 8’s milder effects are more calming and might even be better for insomnia relief. You can think of Delta 8 as Delta 9 THC’s more laid-back cousin, serving as a sleep aid with a reduced risk of feeling too intense or causing increased paranoia.

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