After smoking aged THC flower, many cannabis users noticed that they felt drowsier than usual.
That’s because when THC breaks down over time, it turns into CBN, a slightly psychoactive cannabinoid that induces feelings of drowsiness.
Although CBN’s effects have made it a popular sleep aid, it can actually do much more. Like THC, it’s slightly psychoactive. But how does it compare?
In this article, we’ll explore the differences in the effects and benefits of CBN and THC and discuss which is better for sleep support.
- CBN and THC will both get you high, but THC’s effects are roughly four times as strong as those of CBN. Whereas THC provides euphoria and relaxation, CBN’s high is punctuated with feelings of drowsiness.
- CBN is often better than THC for sleep because it provides many of the same benefits without making you feel groggy when you wake up the next morning.
What is CBN?
Cannabinol (CBN) is one of 100+ naturally occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
Although it was discovered nearly 100 years ago by scientists, CBN didn’t begin to get noticed until people realized the effects of CBN-heavy THC flower — a mellow, drowsy sort of high. Now, it’s a popular choice among cannabis users for sleep.
What is THC?
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta 9 THC, delta 9, or simply THC, is also a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in cannabis.
It’s most known for being the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, however, it’s popular in its legal, hemp-derived form, too.
Will CBN and THC Get You High?
Yes, both THC and CBN will get you high. CBN’s high is much milder than THC’s — most people describe the high effects as similar, yet only 1/4 as strong.
Additionally, for most people, the CBN high is punctuated with feelings of drowsiness, whereas THC promotes euphoria and relaxation.
CBN vs. THC: Benefits
CBN and THC both have a variety of beneficial properties. In fact, many of their benefits overlap.
Benefits of CBN
- CBN supports restful sleep — research done on mice indicates that CBN may be able to prolong sleeping time. Anecdotal, most people report that CBN has sedative effects and makes for an effective natural sleep supplement.
- CBN provides a natural alternative to melatonin — Many former melatonin users have switched to CBN because it’s non-habit forming and doesn’t cause grogginess the next morning.
- CBN promotes a healthy inflammatory response — One study on rats demonstrated that CBN has anti-inflammatory potential. Many people find CBN beneficial for pain, especially when mixed with THC.
- CBN enhances the effects of THC — A study on CBN done in 1975 showed that a CBN and THC combination renders a greater psychoactive than THC alone. People generally describe this effect as a drowsier, chilled-out version of the usual THC high.
- CBN promotes mental relaxation — One of the main reasons CBN is beneficial for sleep is that it promotes deep mental relaxation. For this reason, many people also find CBN useful for stress and anxiety.
Benefits of THC
- THC can address stress and anxiety — THC’s relaxing, euphoric effects make it beneficial for everyday stress, social anxiety, and other anxiety. These properties also make it the ideal cannabinoid for recreational use.
- THC promotes a healthy pain & inflammatory response — Research suggests THC may render therapeutic benefits for those dealing with pain by promoting bodily relaxation. Research also shows THC may directly reduce inflammation.
- THC can support restful sleep — Many people find that THC’s relaxing properties help them get to sleep more quickly and stay asleep throughout the night.
- THC may help with nausea and vomiting — Multiple studies suggest THC may reduce nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, as well as by medical problems like glaucoma.
CBN vs. THC For Sleep: Which Is Better?
Although THC is stronger than CBN and will get you higher than CBN will, CBN is usually the better cannabinoid for sleep.
This is for a few reasons. The first is that the high effect CBN gives is more drowsy than outright intoxicating, meaning it will help you relax without keeping you awake as other psychoactive cannabinoids might.
Additionally, because CBN isn’t as powerful as THC (it’s roughly 1/4 as strong), it can help you achieve restful sleep without making you feel drowsy when you wake up the next morning. This is a major reason people prefer CBN over melatonin, too.
The final reason that CBN is often better than THC for sleep is that its effects are more evenly distributed across the body and mind, whereas THC creates a powerful head high but its physical effects aren’t as strong.
This means CBN can help you relax if you’re experiencing physical discomfort without getting you as high as THC does.
CBN vs. THC: How They Work In The Body
CBN and THC, like all cannabinoids, work via your body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a transmitter system responsible for regulating most of your vital functions, including sleep, mood, inflammatory response, and body temperature.
The ECS’s main purpose is to keep your mind and body in a state of balance.
There are two types of receptors in your ECS that cannabinoids typically bind to: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are responsible for regulating the mental effects of cannabinoids, while CB2 receptors are body-focused.
CBN interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your ECS, with a higher affinity toward CB2. Through this interaction, it renders roughly event amounts of mental and physical relaxation.
THC predominantly acts on the CB1 receptors, but it also binds with CB2 receptors. THC’s affinity toward CB1 receptors means that it creates powerful psychoactive effects, while its physical effects aren’t as strong.
Side Effects of CBN vs. THC
Though CBN and THC have many benefits, they can also cause negative side effects.
Side effects of CBN include:
- Grogginess the morning after (if you take too much)
(Note that tiredness isn’t necessarily a negative effect if you’re using CBN to sleep.)
Side effects of THC include:
- Difficulty thinking and speaking
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Memory loss
- Red eyes
- Slowed reaction time
Can You Take CBN and THC Together?
Taking CBN and THC together is completely safe. In fact, many strains of cannabis feature hefty amounts of both cannabinoids.
Using this combination will render the typical THC high but with added feelings of drowsiness. This combination works well for sleep, as well as for general relaxation at the end of a day.
Conclusion: CBN vs. THC
If you’re not interested in recreational use, you might find CBN can meet your needs. It has many of the same benefits as THC, but without the powerful high — and it still does creative mild psychoactive effects.
CBN may also provide a better option than THC for sleep, as it’s less likely to make you feel groggy the next morning.
Still, THC has its place — when you want to relax and let loose a bit, it’s the go-to cannabinoid.
If you’re ready to get started, check out our CBN and THC dosage guides:
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CBN vs. THC: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions customers commonly us about the differences between CBN and THC.
Does CBN with THC help you sleep?
Yes, CBN with THC can help you sleep better. The CBN and THC combination produces a drowsier version of the classic THC high that’s effective for promoting restful sleep.
Is CBN good for anxiety?
Though no research has been done on CBN for anxiety, anecdotal evidence suggests it may be helpful for promoting mental relaxation and addressing stress and anxiety.
What effects does CBN have on THC?
When added to THC, CBN produces a drowsier, less energetic version of the THC high and amplifies THC’s overall “high” effects.
How does CBN affect you?
CBN has drowsy, mildly psychoactive effects on most people. It also promotes physical relaxation. Many people report that CBN feels similar to delta 9 THC, but only 25% as strong.