If your bed is infested with bedbugs, sleeping at night can be a nightmarish experience. Be that as it may, there are ways to prevent these parasitic pests from ruining your sleep.
To prevent bed bugs from biting you while you sleep, steam clean the mattress, bed frame, headboards, and box springs. Also, wash the bedding in hot water at 125°F.
You can use a mattress encasement, bed bug interceptors, and bug repellents to prevent bites.
While sleeping on a bed-bug-infested bed can be a scary experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should leave your house to sleep elsewhere.
If the infestation isn’t severe, you can sleep on a bed with bed bugs, provided you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from bites.
Bed bugs, known scientifically as cimex lectularius, are tiny brown insects with flat, elliptic-shaped bodies. Despite their small size, they’re visible to the naked eye.
Bed bugs are nocturnal pests that survive by sucking human blood. During the process, they usually deliver painful bites that cause skin irritation and itchiness.
Many insects have a similar basic appearance to bedbugs, including fleas, carpet beetles, and bat bugs. So, you need to know if you’re dealing with bed bugs or a different type of insect.
Check for bed bug eggs and their young (nymphs). A bed bug egg measures the same size as a pinhead and is white, whereas nymphs are translucent and grow as they mature.
Bed bugs are “year-round” pests, which means infestations can happen at any time of year. However, they’re more active and bread faster during the summer months.
Do Bed Bugs Cause A Lack of Sleep?
While bed bugs aren’t known to transmit any diseases, they can have a negative impact on your health and well-being, including your quality of sleep.
They mainly disrupt sleep through their bites, usually in the early hours of the morning, between 3 am and 5 am. This is a natural behavior that is believed to be shaped by evolution.
According to Clinical Microbiology Reviews, bedbugs are photophobic, which means they are repulsed by sunlight. So, they’ll do anything to avoid coming into contact with direct sunlight. This also explains why they prefer to come out to bite during the wee hours of the night when it’s darkest.
Moreover, you’re less likely to wake up in response to stimuli. In essence, during the early stages of sleep, minor stimuli such as touch and light can easily wake you up.
However, in the early morning hours, you’re in stages 3-4 of sleep (REM sleep), which means bed bugs can bite you without having to wake you up.
How Do Bed Bug Bites Prevent Sleep?
As mentioned, bed bug bites can be quite painful and may cause skin irritation and itchiness.
While some people have no physical reaction to bed bug bites, others can have allergic reactions. That can be paired with secondary infections due to their bodies’ response to the bite.
Aside from the physical effects of bed bug bites, sleeping in a bed infested with these blood-sucking insects can have an adverse effect on someone’s mental health.
People with a bed bug infestation are prone to anxiety and insomnia. To keep bed bugs at bay, many homeowners will exhibit hypervigilant behavior.
According to the American Journal of Medicine, the emotional trauma caused by an infestation can cause some people to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
More research is needed to determine how PTSD can occur after an infestation.
Can You Sleep in A Bed with Bed Bugs?
If the infestation in your home isn’t too severe, you can sleep in a bed that has bed bugs.
However, even if you’re dealing with a mild infestation, the presence of bed bugs in your bed can cause anxiety and interfere with the quality of your sleep.
It’s possible to sleep on a bed infested with bed bugs. However, you need to steam clean your mattress, bed frame, headboards, and box springs.
You may also need to clean your bed sheets and beddings at high temperatures to kill the bugs or use a mattress encasement to keep any bed bugs hiding inside the mattress from biting you.
Here’s how to prepare your bed:
Given their tiny size and stealthiness, bed bugs can be hard to detect, even during the daytime.
Bed bugs can easily hide in the smallest gaps, crevices, and edges of your mattress, only to appear while sleeping to bite you and feed on your blood.
Steam cleaners are an effective defense because they generate hot steam, eliminating adult bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs. This explains why most professional bug exterminators use heat treatment.
Before sleeping in a bed with bed bugs, steam clean the mattress with a specialized mattress steam cleaner. Remove the bedsheets, comforters, and pillows from the bed, then slowly steam clean the entire mattress. Ensure that you cover every inch of it, including the hems.
You can also steam clean the bed frame, headboards (if your bed has any), and box springs.
Clean your bedding (including sheets, blankets, and pillowcases) in hot water.
Washing your bed sheets and other bedding in hot water (125°F) a few times a week will kill adult bed bugs and nymphs.
A mattress encasement prevents the bed bugs inside your mattress from accessing your skin. They also trap bed bugs hidden in your mattress, thereby ensuring they don’t spread to other areas of your home.
Applying a mattress encasement is easy since they come with zippers and are available in different mattress sizes.
Mattress encasements don’t suffocate bed bugs. So, if there are bed bugs beneath the mattress, they’ll survive. However, any bed bugs from other areas of your home won’t be able to infest your mattress due to the encasement that’s protecting it.
Essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, catnip oil, and clove oil, repel bed bugs. Smearing them on your skin before you go to bed will provide some protection.
Alternatively, you can use Vicks® VapoRub™ to deter bed bugs from biting you.
If you’re like most people, you’ll prefer to sleep in light clothing, especially during the summer when temperatures can get quite high at night.
However, when dealing with a bed bug infestation in your bed, you may have to sacrifice some of your comfort to get a good night’s rest.
Bed bugs will bite any part of your body they can access. So, if you’re sleeping on a bed infested with these parasitic pests, you’ll need to wear clothing that covers most parts of your body.
Instead of sleeping in a t-shirt and boxer shorts as you would normally do, consider wearing pajamas that cover your legs to your ankles and a light full-sleeved top or shirt.
With most of your body covered and protected, apply peppermint or eucalyptus oil to your face and other body parts that are still exposed.
You can use bed bug interceptors to check for bugs inside your bed and to trap them.
The best place for bed bug interceptors is under the legs of your bed. When the bed bugs attempt to climb up your bed’s legs to get to you, they’ll get trapped inside the interceptors.
It’s a common misconception that if you sleep with the lights on, bed bugs won’t bite you.
Bed bugs are nocturnal pests, which means they’re active at night and will hide in the tiniest cracks and crevices in your home in the daytime.
Unless they’ve been starving, their feeding activity occurs at night, and they rarely care whether the lights are turned on.
All they need is a stationary human in deep sleep exhaling carbon dioxide, so they can track their scent and bite them.
If you have a bed bug infestation in your bedroom, it’s inadvisable to move to a different room to sleep since the bed bugs will follow you there.
Remember, bed bugs are good at hitch-hiking, so they might latch onto your clothes and move with you to your new sleeping place.