The Best Terpenes for Sleep
Published on 12/4/22
One of the most valuable properties of cannabis is its ability to fight insomnia. Our modern world does a number on sleep hygiene: everything from blue-light screens to overcaffeinated beverages to the neighbors who throw parties until the wee hours of the morning all combine to limit the quantity and quality of sleep for an average American. Luckily, the terpenes found in cannabis can quiet a busy mind and help a person sleep like a log. What are the best terpenes for sleep, and how should a person use cannabis to improve sleep habits?
The term "terpene" has become well-known in the cannabis community. Some customers increasingly want strains of cannabis based on their terpene chemistry rather than specific THC percentages. Others are skipping the cannabis altogether by going straight to the source and buying terpenes directly. Terpenes are not unique to marijuana: all plants grow these chemicals primarily as a defense mechanism. Coffee plants, for example, grow caffeine in their terpenes to kill insects that try to suck out their juices. The best terpenes in cannabis can do many different things, ranging from alleviating pain to augmenting emotions to making old episodes of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" hilarious.
Terpenes contain the cannabidiol substance that creates new pathways in brain receptors. These brain chemistry changes can get you high, increase your creativity, make it easier to hold a conversation, or even make you feel more relaxed. They can also make you sleepy or even change the quality of sleep you get in a single night. A terpene chart reveals how different substances affect the mind and body, with some proving particularly capable of improving sleep.
The terpinolene terpene is one of the rarest terpenes on this list, reflecting how few growers try to develop strains with this particular substance. Yet "rare" is not the same thing as "impossible," and strains like Jack Herer, Ghost Haze, and Golden Pineapple all have large quantities of terpinolene - and, not coincidentally, are all considered excellent sleep aids. This terpene has a sedative effect while containing a fair amount of antioxidants. It has a distinct fruity smell that may make you think of apples or berries.
By contrast, myrcene is possibly the most common terpene on this list. It can be found in many different strains, most notably the blueberry family strain. It ranks among the best terpene for sleep not only because it is so common but because it is so potent. Myrcene is a strong relaxant, capable of alleviating stress and anxiety, perfect for those whose brain goes a mile a minute when trying to turn it off.
If you have ever taken a toke of a fruit-flavored cannabis strain, most notably cherry pie, you have likely been puffing down some good caryophyllenes. This terpene is common among growers who want to give a bright, fragrant taste to their cannabis. It is also the terpene that drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect since it is easy for them to put their hundreds of millions of scent receptors to work to catch this terpene among a suitcase full of other odors. This is one of the best CBD terpenes for sleep, promising relief from everyday concerns and physical ailments, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Perhaps the strongest sedative terpene on this list, linalool is capable of knocking out the hardiest insomniac. While scientific research on cannabis remains in its infancy because of federal bans on funding and procurement, analysis of linalool has demonstrated that it inhibits locomotor activity, effectively shutting down brain function in the same way as falling asleep. Strains like purple kush and Amnesia Haze are high in linalool, hence their popularity among those who want to fall asleep or melt into their couch.
More commonly associated with medicinal cannabis, nerolidol nevertheless has many benefits as a sleep supplement. It is one of the best terpenes for pain relief and management due to its anti-inflammatory properties: simply rub CBD oil made from a high-nerolidol strain like Blue Dream or Chem Dawg onto an area to feel rapid relief. It also packs a punch as a sleep aid because it contains relaxing qualities. With an earthy taste, it can also be a soothing sensation just before bedtime.
As the name suggests, pinene is the terpene that gives many strains of cannabis their pine-tree scent and flavoring. You may have smoked it in strains like Bubba Kush and inhaled it in other plants like rosemary or orange rind. Pinene comes in alpha and beta forms, with the alpha form doing more to help soothe a worried mind. Popular among insomniacs and medicinal patients alike, pinene is quite common and quite potent.
Do you use cannabis as a sleep aid? How have you found that particular strains or terpenes affect the quality and quantity of your sleep? Let us know in the comments below!