Do Bed Bugs Bite When You Are Not Asleep?

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Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on the hosts and cause itching, allergic reactions, burning, etc. Do bed bugs bite when you are not asleep? Bed bugs cannot tell if a human is sleeping or awake. However, they prefer long periods of inactivity, and the only time we are inactive is when we sleep.

When a bed bug bit me, I was on my couch. Therefore, any period of inactivity will do. I tried several measures when I got a bed bug infestation. I will share all the information you need to identify, treat and prevent bed bugs.

Do bed bugs bite when you are not asleep?

Typically, bed bugs are nocturnal. Moreover, they cannot tell if a host is sleeping or awake. They prefer to feed when the host is most inactive, mostly when they sleep.

However, there are times when they might come out during the day to bite you when you are not sleeping. For example, when you are resting on your couch or bed. Sleeping hosts are more likely to get attacked.

How do you get bed bugs in the first place?

Travel is the most common cause of getting a bed bug infestation. Hotels and motels that entertain many guests might have a bed bug infestation. If you use the sheets and pillow given by them, they will transfer to your clothes. They can also infest your suitcases if you keep them on the hotel furniture or bed.

Bed Bugs

Used furniture is another hot spot for bed bug breeding. When you buy used furniture, there might be bed bug eggs on them. They can latch on to your clothing when you go to a place with bed bugs and then reproduce when you are home.

What is mistaken for bed bug bites?

Bed bugs are tiny and elusive, making it difficult to stop the infestation. But, identifying them early on can help you control and prevent the infestation.

Several other bugs that look alike are bat bugs, spider beetles, booklice, fleas, and carpet beetles. Identifying bed bugs and their eggs is the first step towards controlling the infestation.

What does a bed bug bite look like?

Bed bug bites cause inflammation and itching of the skin. Some other signs of bed bug bites include:

  • A burning sensation on the skin
  • A raised bump on the skin that has a spot also causes itching.
  • A red bump that is itching looks darker on the inside and lighter around the raised ridge.
  • Red bumps in a zig-zag pattern or line
  • Red spots in a cluster, like hives or spider bites.
  • Flat patches on the skin that are inflamed.

Where on the body do bedbug bites occur?

do bed bugs bite when you are not asleep

Bed bugs do not have a preference. They tend to bite areas of your body exposed while you are sleeping. These are:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Legs
  • Hands

What are some signs of bed bugs infestation?

real bedbug and rice to compare size

The most common sign of bed bug infestation is if you wake up feeling itchy. Following are some of the other symptoms to detect an infestation.

  • If you have bloodstains on your sheets or pillows
  • Any dark spots on your clothes, mattress, walls, or sheets indicates excrement of a bed bug
  • Fecal spots, eggs, or shed skin of the bed bug
  • A musty sweetish odor from your mattress or sheets.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

Bed bug bites are very itchy, and continuously scratching them can cause minor wounds on your body. If left untreated, these wounds can cause a bacterial infection. Another serious health issue caused by bed bugs is allergic reactions.

Some people are hypersensitive to insect bites. Bed bug bites can induce anaphylactic shock. Bed bugs tend to bite you during the night when you are asleep.

The never-ending itching can ruin your sleep, subsequently affecting your mental and physical well-being. If not controlled properly, they can spread throughout the whole house, causing frustration and stress.

How do you get bed bugs out of hiding?

Controlling bed bug infestations is difficult because, often, you cannot see them. But there are several measures you can adopt to make them come out of their hiding places.


Once you have figured out the likely hiding places of the bed bugs, you can use a hairdryer on the area. For example, if you think your mattress is infested, run your hairdryer over it a couple of times until the mattress becomes a bit hot. Bed bugs prefer cool hiding places. The heat will make them come out.


A flashlight will help you find the bed bugs hiding in small corners of your room. Hold the light straight to cast a shadow on the bed bugs. Make sure to turn on the rest of the lights in your room to improve visibility.


Household chemistry photo. Container with poisonous liquid. Plastic spray bottle isolated on a red background with copy space for text. Dangerous for the environment symbol

Using a pesticide, you can flush the bed bugs out of their hiding places. A pyrethrin based pesticide is ideal for killing bed bugs. When buying a pesticide, make sure it is approved for use inside the house. An outdoor pesticide will be much more potent and more harmful to your health.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

It is challenging to make sure you never get bed bugs. But what you can do is take specific preventive measures to reduce the chances of an infestation. The following are a few of them:

  • If you store things under your bed, it will create an excellent breeding spot for your bed bugs. The infestation will quickly spread to the rest of your room.
  • If you need a lot of storage, use plastic or glass containers. Bed bugs find it difficult to crawl on glass or plastic material.
  • Removing clutter from your floor will ensure there is no place for the bed bug infestation to grow and spread. When you keep things on the floor, the bed bugs can latch onto them. This can be easily prevented by removing clutter from the floor.
  • You can use dust mite-proof covers for your mattress. This will act as a barrier between you and a potential bed bug.
  • Cleaning or vacuuming regularly will ensure there are no stray bed bugs in the room.
  • Washing your clothes and luggage after travelling can ensure you have not brought a bed bug home.
  • Wash your sheets in the highest setting to ensure the heat can kill the bed bug eggs.
  • When you buy used furniture, inspect it.
  • Exterminating a small infestation will prevent it from spreading.
  • Use an interceptor monitor to detect the infestation in its early stages.

What are some home remedies to treat bedbugs?

If you do not want to use a store-bought pesticide to stop a bed bug infestation, there are many home remedies you can try, like vinegar, baking soda, borax, etc. Vinegar can destroy the nervous systems of bed bugs, thereby killing them. Baking soda will dry the skin of bed bugs, which can instantly kill bed bugs.

Yet another home remedy is rubbing alcohol. When rubbing alcohol comes into contact with the skin of bed bugs, it will dissolve the cells and kill them. You can also use borax powder on your sheets, furniture, and even in the washing machine when doing your laundry.

How to avoid bed bugs when travelling?

When you check in to a hotel, inspect the mattresses and sheets for any signs of bed bugs. Suppose you don’t find any change rooms immediately. 

You can carry a small plastic cover to keep your belongings safe from the bugs that latch onto them. Before coming home, inspect your clothes and luggage for any bed bugs or eggs. You can also come back and clean your luggage and clothing.

How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?

The time it takes to get rid of bed bugs depends on the size and extent of the infestation. If the infestation is minor, you can get it removed in a few hours. You might only need one session of extermination.

However, if the infestation is large, you will need 3-4 sessions of extermination spread over a few weeks.

Final thoughts

Knowing how to identify bed bug infestations and acting fast is the key to controlling an infestation. Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, it is always better to prevent getting bed bugs. You can do this by adopting some of the measures mentioned above. 

Making sure to keep your surroundings clean and clutter-free will ultimately help you spot an infestation. If needed, contact a professional exterminator to prevent the spread of the infestation.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.