Insomnia is a terrible condition for many, but not an uncommon one. Depending on which study you read, anywhere from 10 to 60% of the population has trouble getting to sleep at least part of the time. Terpenes, which are chemical compounds found in cannabis and other aromatic plant life, may be able to make it easier to get some rest when sleep proves elusive.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants, and appear in abundance in cannabis. Each strain has a unique combination of terpenes in specific concentrations. In products like strain-specific terpene blends, these concentrations are replicated to offer the scent and some of the experience of a specific strain. Individual terpenes can also be blended in custom combinations to take advantage of the properties of each one.
Top Calming Terpenes
There are 150 terpenes associated with cannabis. A number of these are suspected to have calming and sedating effects. Among the top terpenes for sleep:
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis. It’s also found in lemongrass, basil, and mango. It is currently being studied for its sedative effects.
Linalool gives cannabis its spicy and floral aromas. It is also found in lavender and mint. Researchers have looked into whether it can be helpful for insomnia, as well as related conditions like anxiety and chronic pain.
Commonly known, high-linalool strains: Amnesia Haze, Special Kush
Caryophyllene is a peppery terpene is found in oregano, cinnamon, cannabis, and cloves. It is one of the only terpenes that is known to bind to cannabinoid receptors. It is currently being studied to gauge its antianxiety and antidepressant effects.
Commonly known, high-caryophyllene strains: Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, Chemdog
This terpene shows up in lower concentrations in cannabis than others. However, terpene extracts make it possible to isolate its effects. It is currently being studied for anti-inflammatory and sedative effects.
Commonly known, high-terpinolene strains: Jack Herer, Dutch Treat
As its name suggests, pinene provides a woodsy, piney odor. It is one of the most abundant terpenes in nature, showing up in cannabis, pine trees, cumin, basil, and rosemary. Researchers are learning more about this terpene’s ability to fight inflammation, as well as its antianxiety effects.
Commonly known, high-pinene strains: Grape Ape, Blue Dream, Harlequin
Best Terpene Combination for Sleep
Terpenes may offer the most benefit through what is known as the entourage effect. This occurs when chemical compounds work together for a stronger benefit than they’d each have on their own. When looking at what terpenes are good for sleep, consider combining multiple terpenes with relaxing and sedating effects. Terpene effects can often be highly personal and variable. When working to identify which terpene is best for sleep, it pays to experiment with more than one.