This summer we’re experiencing a rare, almost mythical occurrence in the UK; an actual, real life heat wave. Other countries where 35-degree weather is the summer norm may mock us for our flushed, sweaty faces and our civic infrastructure’s inability to cope with three days of sunny weather, but we know that as a people, we function best at a more moderate temperature – and with enough rain for the garden, please.
Personally, I love the summer season, as long as I’m not required to use public transport (revolting sweatboxes akin to night clubs but without the fun parts), but a lot of people start to lose it when the weather is hot here, especially in cities where there is very little escape from the oppressive heat and air pollution. The lamentation you’ll see most on social media is “it’s too hot to sleep!” We don’t have air conditioning in most UK homes, and a lot of the houses are sturdy, well-insulated places intended to withstand cold, damp winters. It’s therefore not surprising that humidity and high temperatures make it difficult for a lot of people to get sufficient shut-eye. But I’ve got a strategy for hot weather well-being that I’d like to share with you this summer because my reaction to most self-care problems is to construct a routine. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the delights of a midnight shower.
Now, please don’t be too literal because this doesn’t have to take place at midnight, but for some reason it does feel more calming if you do it after everyone else has gone to bed. First thing to do is set the fan going in your bedroom (if you have one – they’re a decent investment if you don’t) to get the air circulating a bit. Then take a fresh towel (OK fine, your regular towel will do just fine but the visual of a pure white one straight from the linen press was too much for me) and head to your bathroom. After a long day and then cooking and cleaning up after dinner, the mere thought of running your shower on the tepid to cool setting and stepping into it should appeal on its own, but I promise you, the sensation of it is pure bliss. If your bathroom gets sufficient natural light / moonlight and it is safe to shower with minimal lighting then that is optimum for the midnight shower I think, and this is not the sort of shower where you want music or the radio. The thing about the midnight shower is that the purpose is to cool you down, not wake you up or scrub you clean like the morning shower. Pick a relaxing shower gel (I like old school pharmacy favourite, Badedas) and do your thing (I’m not going to tell you how to wash yourself, you’re an adult). The best part of it is appreciating how cool the water is, especially if your skin has that oh-so-delightful sheen of stickiness on it from the heat. This is not the time to aggressively exfoliate or shave your legs or do a conditioning treatment. This is about cooling down your skin, washing off the dust and dirt of the day, and taking five minutes for yourself. Relax. Enjoy.
After wrapping yourself in a towel it’s time to brush your teeth and cleanse you face if you’ve been wearing make-up (I’ve written elsewhere about the power of a hot cloth cleanse at night – both for skincare and relaxation reasons). Don’t dry yourself, but instead sit near the fan, wrapped in your towel and put on your night cream / do skincare things you normally do before bed. You’ll feel as cool as a cucumber at this point I suspect.
If you feel like the shower has perked you up a bit too much, then 20 minutes of bedtime yoga (there are some great ones on YouTube) with some breathing exercises should ease things down. Keep all the lights dim, and hopefully at this point the temperature will have dropped a little too. Time for bed, and in my experience, you should be a lot more comfortable by now and able to get some rest.
Melissa Cox is Editorial Director at Hodder & Stoughton. In July 2018 she is publishing Suicide Club by Rachel Heng, a novel that explores a world in which humans can attain immortality through clean living.
You can find her @MMdotCox on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to her TinyLetter, Beauty by the Book, here: https://tinyletter.com/OfBooksandBeauty