There are many terpene isolates or profiles that are marketed with claims that they can help promote sleep or have special calming, anti-anxiety, or anti-stress effects. Typically, if you want to use terpenes for sleep the best type is often found in certain strains of cannabis. However, other terpenes marketed as sleep aids may not cause the same types of sedative effects that terpenes found in cannabis can. Other types of terpenes will focus more on providing a calming effect or can help to minimize pain and inflammation, all of which can contribute to your lack of sleep. If you want a stronger terpene that can act similarly to a sedative, then using terpenes found in cannabis is the way to go. With over 200 different types of terpenes in cannabis alone, finding the perfect profile or isolate isn’t exactly easy, however, if you know what terpenes to look for you can find the right blend that will help you to relax at night and drift off to sleep peacefully.

Terpenes for sleep that are derived from cannabis can cause effects that are similar to sedatives.

These terpenes include:

  • Myrcene
  • Terpinolene
  • Terpineol
  • Phytol
  • Pinene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene
  • Beta-caryophyllene

Due to our unique brain chemistry, not all terpenes will affect us the same. However, the terpenes I’ve included in my list have been proven to cause sedative effects in lab animals. Not much research has been done regarding the sedative effects these terpenes have in humans.

The right terpenes can cause effects that are similar to what you can experience when taking a sleep aid. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night and don’t want to take habit-forming sleep aids, then these terpenes can be a better, non-habit forming alternative.

Can Cannabis Terpenes Help You Sleep Better at Night?

Happy Caucasian woman

While there are many companies out there that claim their cannabis terpenes contain the most relaxing properties there usually is little detail regarding the science behind in. In many cases, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any real information regarding the sedative effects of certain types of cannabis terpenes. So if you’re interested in learning the real science behind how certain sedative terpenes work and what you can expect concerning results, read on to find out more.

What are Sedatives?

When I say that there are certain terpenes that have calming effects and sedative properties, I should be clear to say that not every sedative acts exactly the same, however many do share some of the basic properties that I’ll describe here.

Some types of terpenes found in cannabis also offer hypnotic effects that are common in many types of sedatives. A sedative can both induce sleep, reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, and some can help you sleep through the night, while others can do both. There are also sedatives that contain anxiolytic properties, which can help to reduce anxiety.

There are other types of sedatives that work by inhibiting neuronal activity which can help to reduce the intensity or frequency of seizures. In terms of motor coordination, some sedatives will have a major negative impact on coordination which is why most come with a warning label that warns against driving during use.

 Terpenes That Offer a Sedative Effect

Some terpenes in cannabis can also be found in the essential oils of many plants. Most of these plants offer a variety of medicinal uses and have been used in holistic medicine for hundreds of years.

Below is a list of the terpenes that have a reputation for providing anti-anxiety or sedative effects:

  • Terpinolene
  • Terpineol
  • Phytol
  • Pinene
  • Myrcene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene
  • Beta-caryophyllene

Of course, this list does not include every type of terpene that possesses sedative effects, however, it does contain the most important and effective ones. I’ll go over what type of evidence is available to support the claims that certain types of terpenes found in cannabis have sedative properties:

Similar Sedative Effects

Terpineol, terpinolene, phytol, pinene, and myrcene act in much the same way. Myrcene Contains a wide variety of sedative effects at least according to scientists who study the effects in birds. Researchers claim that this terpene showed it could suppress locomotor activity which induced sleep though it did not show any type of anti-anxiety effects. However, it did promote relaxation of both the body and mind.

Similarly, pinene was also shown to suppress locomotor activity, in addition to showing an increase in the amount of time the user slept. However, this terpene did not impair motor coordination, yet it did produce anti-anxiety effects that allowed the test subjects to fall asleep faster.

Phytol Also showed a range of sedative activities in lab rats. When administered, this terpene caused an increase in sleep time, anti-anxiety effects, sedative effects, and impaired motor coordination. This terpene is also known for its anticonvulsant effects.

Terpinolene showed a significant decrease in locomotor activity, unfortunately, no other sedative effects have been tested with this particular terpene.



The main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain is called GABA. This neurotransmitter works by reducing neuronal excitability. Benzodiazepines are sedatives that work through these receptors by binding to a specific receptor site and working as a positive modulator. Basically, these benzodiazepines increase the activation of the receptor. There’s plenty of evidence that shows us that some terpenes can work in a manner that’s similar to benzodiazepines by using the same binding site of the GABAA receptors. To start, the terpenes pharmacologic profile is very similar to that of benzodiazepines. Myrcene has shown to increase GABAA receptor activity during cell experiments. Terpineol was also shown to increase GABAA activity. Because terpenes bind to the same site that benzodiazepines to you, it’s totally possible that the anti-anxiety effects of low doses of terpenes can help to promote a better night’s rest when used consistently and correctly.

Limonene’s Sedative Effects

This terpene has shown some of the classic sedative effects when tested on animals. In a study on mice, researchers found that it reduced locomotor activity, impaired motor coordination, and induced sleep. Yet, this terpene did not show any type of anti-anxiety effect. However, the anti-stress effects of the terpene have been tested and showed the cortisol levels had been significantly reduced when initially elevated by social or physical stress. Regular use of this terpene also showed significant changes in the monoamine neurotransmitters that were induced by serotonin and dopamine.

Another study focused on the effects of this terpene when used regularly. Within one week of use, brain GABA levels were increased and brain glutamate levels decreased. Additionally, it also partially blocked stress-induced increases in serum corticosterone.

 Effects in Humans

Can the terpenes commonly found in cannabis have major sedative effects on people, just like in animals?

We now know that the regular use of cannabis terpenes in rodents can provide sedative effects but do humans respond to these terpenes in the same way, and if not, why? Unfortunately, the evidence available that supports these effects in humans is lacking, and studies are ongoing. We know the sedative effects of cannabis terpenes used in animals was generally high, in humans studies are very limited. As research continues, we will learn more about how common cannabis terpenes affect the human brain and whether or not they have the same types of sedative effects in humans as they appear to in mice and rats.

When to Use Terpenes

You may get lucky and find the perfect blend of terpenes that will help you sleep better at night, or you may need to try different blends or isolates that can achieve the effects you’re hoping for. Because terpenes are very potent and powerful in their raw form, you will need to dilute them before use.

If you’re not familiar with the different terpene uses, how they work, and what dose to begin with, then I recommend starting treatment with manageable, smaller doses. The dosage recommended for specific types of terpenes, whether blends or isolates is very important. How you react to each type of terpene will also have an impact on how you use them in the future. If this is your first time using terpenes then there should be a gradual introduction. As I mentioned, all terpenes must be diluted between two and five percent.

Depending on whether you’re trying a profile or an isolate, the dosing can be very different. You can measure your dose using a pipette adding a few drops at a time, until you can determine what size dose works best for you. When measuring a dose, make sure you always use the same dropper that comes with the bottle or the same type and size of pipette for accurate dosing.

The effects of the terpenes can be felt anywhere from five minutes up to an hour. Since you’re using sleep terpenes, you’ll want to avoid driving or any type of activity that requires mental focus. Experiment with these powerful drops when you’re home and getting ready for bed. Take your dose approximately thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime. Avoid using any other type of sleep aid. Abstaining from other sleep aids will help you determine how effective the dose of terpenes is. If taken orally, mix two to three drops with a little coconut oil. Are terpenes water-soluble? No, so while you can mix them in the beverage of your choice, they will simply float to the top. If you decide to ingest them via your favorite beverage, make sure you stir it again immediately before drinking.

Related Question

Can You Add Terpenes to CBD Oil?

Yes. When you add the right blend or isolate to CBD oil it works to further enhance the effects. Some people who want to experiment with different types of terpenes and the best CBD drops will try out different types of terpenes and monitor the effects. If you’re new to terpene use, add just a small amount of isolates with each dose of CBD. You can adjust the dose accordingly, based on the results and how you feel during use.

How Long Do the Effects of Terpenes Last?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone. Concerning sleep terpenes, you may feel the effects for as little as three hours or up to eight hours, depending on the dose and how your body responds to it. Because of this, I recommend experimenting with new terpenes when you’re at home, not when you’re at the office or expected to drive somewhere. Terpenes will affect each person differently. The same can be said for terpenes for energy, which can cause sleep issues if they’re taken too close to bedtime. Remember, when using terpenes, always start off with small doses and gradually increase the dose size every few days.

How Frequently Can I Use Terpenes?

This is a great question. Fortunately, most terpenes will come with instructions directly on the bottle that will state how often they can be used, in addition to dosing size recommendations. Always follow the bottle’s frequency of use instructions. In most cases, many types of terpenes can be used three to four times a day.

Do Terpene Isolates or Profiles Work Better?

As I mentioned earlier, terpenes affect each of us differently, due to our unique brain chemistry. However, if you want to increase their effectiveness during use, then I recommend first trying a profile. Profiles are made up of several different types of terpenes that are all designed to achieve the same effect, whether it can reduce inflammation or pain or naturally boost energy. Elevation Terpenes is a rich blend designed to promote mood elevation and reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety. They can also be a great option to take right before bed if you’re feeling restless or stressed since they can calm the mind and leave you feeling relaxed.

Final Thoughts

What terpenes are good for sleep? The best terpenes for sleep include myrcene, terpinolene, terpineol, phytol, pinene, linalool, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene. During use, these terpenes can cause sedative effects, while promoting relaxation. So, if you’re struggling to sleep through the night or you have trouble falling asleep then this all-natural alternative to habit-forming sleep aids can help you rest easier.