Ever since Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams became the latest bedside bible, ensuring a refreshing eight hours per night has become the goal of many. Sleep makes you smarter, better-looking, kinder, healthier, and happier. No pill or medication can promise you that.
Cannabis, being the magical plant that it is, can help with sleep. There’s already research that proves cannabidiol (CBD) can induce sleepiness. But you may not know that terpenes, the compounds that bestow cannabis with its heady green aroma, can also attract the Sandman.
Terpenes are active organic compounds which offer plants protection from high temperatures, unwanted pests, and predators. Happily, they also produce potent effects when humans ingest them, offering a host of pharmacological benefits that scientists are only just beginning to investigate. There are more than 100 terpenes found in cannabis.
Certain terpenes found in cannabis have sedative effects. They slow the mind and body down, alleviating anxiety, bringing about deep relaxation, and promoting drowsiness. You could even think of these aromatic, sleep-inducing compounds as weed aromatherapy.
Here’s our list of six sweet sleep-inducing terpenes.
Conjure up the fresh, balmy scent of jasmine, tea tree oil, and lemongrass. The fragrance common to all three is nerolidol, also known as peruviol. Nerolidol is a subtle terpene that has sedative effects. If you’re also hoping to ease pain, nerolidol has been shown to exert analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects to make your sleep even deeper.
Strains containing high levels of nerolidol:
- Sweet Skunk
- Jack Herer
- Skywalker OG
Caryophyllene is the only terpene that binds directly to cannabinoid receptors in the body. This powerful terpene can help soothe anxiety, pain and inflammation, promoting a good night’s rest. Spicy, peppery aromas characterize this terpene: in addition to being found abundantly in many cannabis cultivars, it’s also present in cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves.
Find your caryophyllene fix in these strains:
- Death Star
Myrcene’s claim to fame? It’s the most abundant terpene found in cannabis. Myrcene boasts a fruity, herby and earthy fragrance profile, and is found in mangoes, thyme, hops, and cardamom. Urban legend holds that eating mangoes before getting high helps to prolong the effects. Studies on myrcene have shown that it is hypnotic, sedative and relaxes your muscles for good measure. A strain that couples THC with myrcene makes for a luxurious night of rest.
There’s an impressive range of strains with a high myrcene content, including:
- Purple Kush
- Granddaddy Purple
- OG Kush
Ever drift off to sleep on a lavender-scented pillow? That’s thanks to linalool. Linalool is found in lavender, clary sage and sweet basil, and is a hypno-sedative that has been shown to slow the body down by promoting calm and rest. A bonus: it also soothes anxiety, providing relief for those disposed to stress or depression. Cannabis strains with high quantities of linalool have a sweet, floral aroma.
Linalool-rich strains include:
- LA Confidential
- Amnesia Haze
- Purple Kush
Pinene comes in two forms: alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. If it’s tranquilizing effects you’re looking for, alpha-pinene is the terpene for you. Not only does it offer anxiolytic and hypnotic benefits, but it’s also been proven to increase the quantity of non-REM sleep. Pinene terpenes boast that addictively fresh, woodsy fragrance you inhale when you wander through a pine forest (hence the name). It’s also present in rosemary, orange peel and parsley.
You’ll find alpha-pinene in these strains:
- Blue Dream
- Bubba Kush
Terpinolene is a potent terpene found in many cannabis strains, but usually in small amounts. It’s also one of the most aromatically complex terpenes, combining pine, floral and citrus scents. Some liken the fresh fragrance of terpinolene to lilac. According to research, terpinolene acts on the central nervous system to induce drowsiness when inhaled, and inhibits the desire to be active.
Terpinolene-dominant strains include:
- Dutch Treat
- Sensi Star
- Ace of Spades
If smoking or vaping isn’t your thing, there are other ways to get your daily dose of terpenes. Terpene isolates and concentrates are available as tinctures, and if you’re in Los Angeles, you can even get terpene-infused gourmet chocolates, kombucha, and spirits from BotanaVista.
So take a drop of terpene tincture or have a toke, settle back onto your lavender-scented pillow, and get ready for the sleep you’ve been dreaming of.