When you are a homeless person there is no such thing as personal space or private moments. You’re outdoors so everyone sees you. If you need to brush your teeth, at least wash the smelly parts of your body, or go to the washroom, you do it in a public washroom. If you need to sleep, you — well, that’s a tough problem.
The amount of sleep needed in order to be able to normally function varies. It depends on various factors such as age, physical fitness, personal motivation and so on, but it’s probably safe to say everyone needs a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sleep. When you’re homeless like I am, there is no bed and because you have no privacy, you just can’t sleep outside for that amount of time without something happening to you, like being mugged, being hit by the elements of the weather, or rudely awakened by someone you pissed off because of your need to sleep (see example embedded in this post. I’m sure the owners of Two Goblets love to see this sight every morning when they open up).
So far I’ve managed to mostly dodge the bullet by sleeping in the parks and on transit routes in short naps that add up to the needed rest, but I say mostly because I know I’m not getting enough REM sleep (REM means Rapid Eye Movement, and is the part of sleeping where your brain does mental housecleaning in the forms of dreams. This results in not only hallucinations but also moments where I suddenly go to sleep without warning and people like bus drivers and cafe staff have made more than a polite point that I’m not supposed to do that here. On Saturday July 25th, 2015, a female Waterloo Region police officer woke me up rather roughly at a local McDonald’s and sternly told me not to go back to sleep again. Nothing beats fear and the adrenalin rush that comes from waking up to see a very unhappy police officer (wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with a service pistol) looking down at you to keep you up for hours. I would not recommend using the police involved as your personal wakeup service, though.
It’s amazing how much people take getting a good night sleep for granted until you end up in the situation I’m in right now. I am working on ways to use my smartphone set on vibrate to go off every 20 minutes so if I suddenly do get a nap attack, it won’t be for long. It may drain my phone battery often but it will reduce the awkward situations I find myself in when someone stumbles on a napping David.
For as long as the temporary jobs and gigs can pay for the phone. When I lose that, I will invest in an egg-timer.
Thanks for reading!