Last Updated on: 30th September 2023, 08:39 am
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 mattress encasements, bed bug interceptors, and bug repellents to prevent bites.
While sleeping on a bed-bug-infested bed can be an unsettling experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should leave your home and 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 getting bitten.
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 on human blood. They deliver bites that cause skin irritation and itchiness once the anesthetic they release wears off.
Some insects have a similar basic appearance to bed bugs, including carpet beetles, baby cockroaches, and bat bugs. So, you must know if you’re dealing with bed bugs or a different 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 most active and breed faster during the summer months.
Do Bed Bugs Cause A Lack of Sleep?
While bed bugs don’t transmit diseases, they can negatively impact your health, including sleep quality.
They mainly disrupt sleep through their bites, usually in the early morning, between 3 AM and 5 AM. This is a natural behavior shaped by evolution.
According to Clinical Microbiology Reviews, bedbugs are photophobic, which means they hate sunlight. This 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 like touch and light can wake you up.
You’re in stages 3-4 of sleep (REM sleep), meaning bed bugs can bite without waking you up.
How Do Bed Bug Bites Prevent Sleep?
Bed bug bites can cause pain, skin irritation, swelling, and itchiness.
While some people have no physical reaction to bed bug bites, others experience allergic reactions. That can be paired with secondary infections due to their body’s response to the bite.
Aside from the physical effects of bed bug bites, sleeping in a bed infested with blood-sucking insects can harm your mental health.
People with bed bug infestations are prone to anxiety and insomnia. To keep bed bugs at bay, many homeowners display 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).
Can You Sleep in A Bed with Bed Bugs?
If the infestation isn’t too severe, you can sleep in a bed with bed bugs.
However, even if you’re dealing with a mild infestation, 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 must steam clean the mattress, bed frame, headboards, and box springs.
You may also need to clean the bed sheets and bedding at high temperatures to kill them or use a mattress encasement to keep bed bugs hiding inside the mattress from biting you.
Here’s how to prepare your bed:
Due to their 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 a 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 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, ensuring they don’t spread to other areas of your home.
Applying an encasement is easy since they come with zippers and are available in different mattress sizes.
Mattress encasements don’t suffocate bed bugs. So, if bed bugs are 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 protecting it.
Essential oils (eucalyptus, peppermint, catnip, and clove oil) repel bed bugs. Smearing them on your skin before bed will provide some protection.
You can even use Vicks® VapoRub™ to deter bed bugs from biting you.
If you’re like most people, you’ll prefer to sleep naked or in light clothing, especially during the summer when temperatures can get relatively high at night.
However, when dealing with a bed bug infestation in your bed, you may have to sacrifice some comfort to get a good night’s rest.
Bed bugs will bite any part of your body they can access. If you’re sleeping on a bed infested with these parasitic pests, you must wear clothing covering most body parts.
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 the 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 misconception that bed bugs won’t bite if you sleep with the lights on.
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 starving, their feeding occurs at night, and they rarely care whether the lights are turned on. They need a stationary human in a deep sleep exhaling carbon dioxide to track the scent and bite.
If you have a bed bug infestation in your bedroom, moving to a different room to sleep is inadvisable since the bed bugs will follow you.
Remember, bed bugs are good at hitchhiking, so they’ll latch onto your clothes and move with you to your new sleeping place, spreading the infestation.