In the first scene of the third act of the second part of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, the titular king cries, “O sleep, O gentle sleep / Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee / That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down / And steep my senses in forgetfulness?”
You see, like many people, Henry struggled with getting to sleep — and seeing as how he spent a significant portion of his royal tenure defending his life and political standing against rebel coups and assassination attempts, lying awake at night probably wasn’t the worst idea.
That particular King of England’s reign ended in 1413, which means that over 600 years have passed and we still haven’t had a eureka moment resulting in a surefire cure for insomnia. We have, however, sussed out a few ways of making it easier to ease into gentle sleep, whether it’s by fostering well-being through meditation or filling a prescription for Ambien. There is also one very simple method that people have sworn by since the beginning of time: aromatherapy.
Perhaps the word makes you think of patchouli and burning cones of nag champa — in which case you are wrong and actually thinking of a head shop — or maybe you’re already on board with the world of essential oils, herbs, and plant extracts that put a person right to sleep. Either way, the secret to getting some much-needed rest might have been hiding inside your nose all along.
Ahead, some of our favourite products for alleviating insomnia and encouraging sleep. If all else fails, just put yourself in Henry of Bolingbroke’s weird shoes, and thank your lucky stars that nobody is currently plotting to kill you. Probably.