Terpenes: How They Can Help with Sleep

For something so important to our overall health, most of us have had difficulty falling or staying asleep at one point or another and most of us don't want to rely on highly addictive prescription medication but can find it frustrating when natural sleep aids don’t work. This means you are trying one product after another until you find the one that finally DOES work. This is why many who have discovered Terpenes are singing its praise when it comes to their sleep health.

If you’ve used any kind of botanical therapy for sleep or other health issues—taken a herbal supplement, used aromatherapy or essential oils—you’ve almost certainly benefitted from terpenes. These tiny molecules are found in many plants, fruits and flowers, including lavender, citrus, and hops

To understand how terpenes enhance the quality of sleep, we need to understand why people have trouble sleeping. For a lot of people, poor sleeping habits are the culprit. That might mean having caffeine too late in the day, scrolling through your phone in bed, or just maintaining an irregular sleep schedule.

For others, stress and anxiety can lead to racing thoughts. Sometimes chronic pain and inflammation just make it hard to get comfortable. Whatever the case, if sleep is the goal then the key seems to be quieting the mind and calming the body. That way, it’s easier for people to put their phones away, relax, and feel comfortable enough for a restful night’s sleep. 

How Do Terpenes Enhance Sleep?

Terpenes, the natural hydrocarbons that give most plants their unique scent and flavour, have a variety of different effects. Some can help reduce inflammation, elevate our moods, energise us, and some can even help promote better sleep. 

Terpenes can help in all of these areas. Certain terpenes, like Myrcene, have powerful sedative effects. In a study on mice, myrcene was able to increase sleep duration by roughly 2.6 times. Beta-Caryophyllene can help reduce pain related to the nervous system and it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory.

How terpenes help sleep

Research has shown that different terpenes have natural sedative and hypnotic effects. You hear those terms a lot in connection with natural and pharmaceutical sleep medications. Let’s talk quickly about what they mean.

Sedatives, including naturally sedative compounds like some terpenes, quiet nervous system activity, promoting deep calm, relaxation and drowsiness, helping pave the way for sleep. Hypnotics, including natural compounds with hypnotic effects, directly induce sleep. Sedative and hypnotic effects can be found separately or together in natural compounds. (And there’s a whole class of widely used sleep medication that is sedative-hypnotic.)

Some terpenes also have natural anxiolytic—anxiety-reducing—effects, easing psychological tension and worry and benefitting sleep indirectly. Terpenes have been shown in scientific study to reduce inflammation and to ease the pain. Their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties can help to remove the barriers that inflammation and pain pose for sound nightly rest.

Scientists are still discovering the mechanisms by which terpenes promote relaxation, sleep, pain relief, improve mood and reduce inflammation.

One pathway by which terpenes may work is by activating the body’s own GABA system. GABA is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. GABA functions as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication among brain cells.

GABA, is best described as the brakes of the brain. It is the body’s most important inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA lowers the activity of neural cells in the brain and central nervous system. That has the effect of moving the brain and the body into a lower gear. By inhibiting neural activity, GABA helps initiate sleep, decreases mental and physical stress, reduces anxiety, and encourages a calm, stable mood. Some terpenes that have sedative and anti-anxiety effects, including myrcene and alpha-pinene, have been shown to work in part by activating the brain’s GABA system, increasing calm, lowering anxiety, promoting sleep.

Some of the best terpenes for sleep and relaxation

Pinene. This terpene, found in pine plants (and pine essential oils) as well as in cannabis, has been shown to increase non-REM sleep, reduce sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and to lower anxiety. Pinene is one of the terpenes that may affect the GABA system.

Myrcene. This terpene is found in many strains of cannabis. Myrcene is also found in a lot of fruits and herbs, including mangoes, basil, thyme, and lemongrass, as well as in the sleep-promoting plants hops and ylang ylang. Myrcene has been shown to have sedative effects.

Caryophyllene. This stress, anxiety and pain-relieving terpene may also promote sleep as a result of those relaxing, anxiolytic and analgesic properties. Caryophyllene has a spicy, peppery aroma—in addition to cannabis, it is also found in cloves and black pepper.

LimoneneThis terpene can be found in citrus peels as well as in cannabis. Limonene has been shown to lower anxiety and stress. Limonene has also been shown to have anti-depressant effects. Scientists think its calming, mood-lifting effects come from limonene’s ability to elevate serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is an important hormone and neurotransmitter for sleep (among other things, it is required to help produce the sleep hormone melatonin) and limonene’s serotonin-boosting effects may make this terpene a sleep-promoter. Studies have shown that limonene may help reduce insomnia symptoms.

When using any natural therapy, it’s important to know what you’re looking to achieve with it. Some people with trouble sleeping want to relax without necessarily being directly induced to sleep. Others need more specific relief to achieve better rest: relief from pain, or from anxiety that keeps you awake. 

Whatever the reason you're having trouble sleeping, you can best be sure our CB2 Calm | Sleep | Recover blend has you covered. Our proprietary blend uses various terpenes that affect GABA activity, to help relieve stress and anxiety, promote a balanced mood, and help with sleep. This puts this product in the company with other well-known sleep-promoting supplements, including valerian and hops, magnesium, and L-theanine, all of which affect the brain’s GABA activity.

 

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