Homeless at Risk of Mental Illness and Drug Abuse Due to Lack of Sleep
A new report – Sleep Loss in the Homeless—An Additional Factor of Precariousness – in the Dec. 27, 2016 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine documents that homeless people are especially likely to suffer from insomnia, fatigue and lack of sleep.
According to a report in Health:
- The researchers compared the responses of the homeless to a sample of French adults who were not homeless. Overall, the homeless reported sleeping less (6 hours, 31 minutes) than the general population (7 hours, 9 minutes).
- And 8 percent of the homeless said they hadn’t managed to get four hours of sleep over the last 24 hours, compared to 3 percent of the general population.
- More than 40 percent of the homeless people reported insomnia, which is about double the rate of the general population. One-third of the homeless said they were tired during the day, again more than twice the number of the general population.
“We strongly support strategies other than hypnotic agents to improve sleep in the homeless, including more careful control of noise, lighting, heating and air conditioning at night,” Dr. Damien Leger of the Paris Descartes University and the Public Assistance Hospital of Paris and his team wrote.
“Facilities could provide residents with sleep aids, such as earplugs, eye sleep masks and pillows. Screens between beds could offer some sense of privacy, even in collective dormitories, and addressing issues of personal security should promote better sleep,” the researchers added.
The Atlantic had made a similar report in 2014.
“Without a doubt, sleep is the biggest issue for homeless people,” writes San Diego-based blogger and self-proclaimed “chronic homeless man” Kevin Barbieux, who writes under the name The Homeless Guy. Barbieux, who has alternated between transitional housing and no housing at all, updates his blog either through his donated laptop or by using the computers at his local library.
“Homeless advocates are always focused on what are believed to be the root causes of homelessness, and providing the basics of food shelter and clothing to those who do without,” he continues. “And although those things are important in their own way, they don’t affect homeless people with the intensity that sleep does (or the lack thereof).”
Schizophrenia-like symptoms may also start to develop, which is problematic in a population that already experiences a higher-than-average likelihood of suffering from the disease.