Your speech will become incoherent and indistinct, and you won’t be able to think properly or concentrate. Meanwhile your physical coordination will plummet resulting in clumsiness. Grumpiness and irritability are guaranteed and you will almost certainly find your social functioning is impaired. You are unlikely to be safe operating machinery and you may even hallucinate.
This is not the result of some illegal drug or the impacts of a neurological condition. This is what sleep deprivation does to you. Insomniacs and the parents of young children know it well, and bedtime can be a daunting time.
Forget all that, if you can. Being tired is indeed rubbish, but its only rubbish if it is for no reason. If you are up all night partying then the next day’s fatigue comes with a sort of satisfied glamour.
One of the best ways of not sleeping is to go camping. You will sit up late chatting and putting the world to rights, then find it hard to get comfy and warm on an air-bed. Next minute, it is light, the darn birds are making a racket and the tent has turned into a sauna. Or, even worse, rain is pattering down noisily, like bullets hitting a shield.
The groggy post-camping feeling the next day is well worth it though. We are so accustomed to our electricity, heating and entertainment systems that escaping them for a night or two makes for a massive adventure. Camping reminds you how much we take for granted and how much carbon we burn in daily life.
It is also an incredible way to experience nature. Living under canvas, even for a short while, opens up all your senses. You will smell the morning dew mingling with the scent of the earth and, once you forget to care that you aren’t asleep, that dawn chorus will be breath-taking.
For children, it is a chance to run free from routine and experience a simpler, wilder existence. They will thrive on the campsite tasks of putting in tent pegs and fetching water.
As holidays or weekends away go, it is also one of the cheapest ways of gaining a change of scenery. This is especially true in places such as the Norfolk or Suffolk coasts where a week’s cottage hire, particularly in the school holidays, can cost a lot more than a super posh tent.
Camping is perfect for a micro-adventure too. Leave the office at five pm, head to a campsite with your tent, sleep the night and then wake up early (oh you will!) and put your suit back on and return to work. That is certainly more interesting than just going home and watching a box set again.
This month, people around the country are combining their love of camping and nature with the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout. It involves sleeping outside, either in your garden or at your local RSPB nature reserve and fundraising a little for wildlife too.
Beds are boring and sleep is overrated. A nocturnal adventure is so much more fun, so pack up your sleeping bag and don’t forget the marshmallows.