Homelessness Myth #6: Homeless People Sleep All The Time

Also published on The Huffington Post.

Last post, I wrote that we need to wake up to the issues of homelessness.  First, we need to be become aware, then we need to become educated. And through this education, our compassion will be re-awakened.  No longer should we sleepwalk through the issues of homelessness.

In this companion post, I asked some homeless people to share their feelings about sleep.  I made no suggestions on what they should or should not share.  I share their feelings with you.

The following people who have responded to my inquiry have demonstrated great courage, for which I thank each of them.

“Sleeping is kind of rough.  Sleeping on the streets you have to watch other people.  You have to be real careful of the weather and other people.  You could get kicked in the head.  Other people like to mess with the homeless.” – Joe

“For the moment, let’s just say riding around all night on the bus and trains keeps you out of jail.” – Maurice

“Problems I encounter – I have people stalking me for crimes that they have committed against me, including poisoning me, drugging me.  So, therefore, I do not have a place to sleep or sleep on a regular place or regular sleep times.  So, therefore, I cannot keep appointments or regular life.  Sleeping times are hard to get as well as keeping my health correct.” – Antonio

“Out of all the years my family and I were homeless, we slept in shelters and got enough sleep.  Except for one night when we slept in a car which was a horrible experience.” – Barbara

“As soon as you get camp set up and get into your blankets and fall asleep, it’s time to get up and pack up your stuff and start the day.” – Connie

I.  “Make yourself tired every day by making yourself busy doing something.”

II.  “Being stir-crazy is a box thing!  It leads to a constant insomnia.”- Gerod

“My experience with sleep as a homeless person… I have sleep problems anyway.  I have diabetes and asthma.  It affects my sleep pattern.

I’m always tired.

The other day I slept under the bridge because it was overcast and supposed to rain.

Before I woke up at 3:00 am, there was a car that crashed into a tree next to the trolley.  I didn’t hear a thing.  I slept right through it.

People near me said that the people in the car were drunk.  I don’t know.

When I woke up, they were towing the car away.” – Anonymous

The factors “that affect the sleeping habits of people sleeping on the streets are:

  • People on certain medications
  • Medical, physical conditions
  • Noise levels
  • Too much light
  • Harassment by pedestrians and/or people driving by
  • Other homeless people
  • Weather, especially if [a homeless person] is not protected from extreme weather conditions by tents, A.C., cold weather gear, enough clothes, umbrellas, etc.
  • Fear/paranoia of being robbed, mugged, raped, beat up, harassment by anyone you’re concerned about being bothered by
  • The hard cold/hot ground
  • Debris on the ground if [the homeless person] is unable to properly clean up
  • Vermin – bugs, rats, birds
  • Hunger or [being] full of caffeine
  • People nearby having conversations in voices loud enough to keep someone awake, although not intentionally
  • Having a good quiet spot, but cannot sleep there until real late because of business hours
  • People waking you up for blankets, cigarettes, looking for criminals or friends, [asking for] directions, giving food or other things
  • A person’s personality [being] too polite to end a conversation, anger slow to cool, etc.
  • Habits, like reading, insomnia, smoking, visiting friends, staying up at night and sleeping during the day

“Sleeping near noisy spots:  freeway, noisy businesses, hospital fire station, police station, high crime areas, high traffic streets, metered parking lots, skateboarding, teens using your location to extreme skate.”  – Bookwyrm

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