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Public Sleeping Day: Is It Ever Illegal to Snooze?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Stop yawning and perk up: It's National Public Sleeping Day! There are a variety of creative ways to get your Z's on in public spaces to celebrate the occasion.

But is sleeping in public ever illegal?

The answer may surprise you and be quite the rude awakening.

When, Where Public Sleeping May Be Illegal

There are certain situations when you can get into legal trouble for drifting off into la-la land.

Here are three ways you can snooze your way into legal trouble:

  1. Sleeping in a public building after hours. Remaining in a public building after hours is typically considered a form of trespassing. That means that it would be illegal to sleep in City Hall or the public library or another public building after operating hours.
  2. Sleeping in violation of a curfew ordinance. Similar to the situation described above, it could be illegal for you to sleep in a public place if there's a local curfew ordinance in effect. Such ordinances deem certain public places off-limits at specific times. Curfews may apply only to juveniles or to specific locations such as entire parks or sections of them, neighborhoods, or entire cities.
  3. Sleeping in violation of "anti-homelessness" laws. Several cities across the country have laws that specifically target sleeping or resting outside. Also known as "anti-homelessness" laws, these very controversial laws restrict a person's ability to sleep on sidewalks and other areas. For example, San Francisco's so-called "sit-lie" ordinance bans sitting or lying on sidewalks citywide between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.


In observance of the lighthearted occasion, some may be tempted to catch a quick catnap after hours in a public space or building.

Though enforcement of the above-mentioned laws can be lethargic at times, try not to take too much advantage of the public sleeping "holiday." After all, the last thing you would want is for your public sleeping dream to turn into a legal nightmare.

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