10 Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites in Your Sleep

Updated: Jun. 29, 2022

Mosquitoes like to come out at night, but you can protect yourself. Here's how to keep mosquitoes away and prevent bug bites when you sleep.

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Bites at night

Bad news for deep sleepers: Mosquitoes are more likely to bite you at night. Nearly 80 percent of bites by the mosquitoes that carry malaria occur during the time when people are in bed, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. The circadian rhythms of most species of the biting bugs mean that they are most active at dawn and in the evening, although they will bite you long into the night if given the opportunity. So it’s up to you to not give them the chance to suck your blood.

mosquito net canopy over bed
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Sleep with a mosquito net

They’re not common in America but mosquito nets, particularly those treated with an insecticide, are one of the most effective ways to prevent mosquito bites, according to a meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. When used properly (enclosing your entire bed with no gaps) they are a cheap and reliable way to prevent insect bites, says Joseph M. Conlon, medical entomologist and technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association.

view of backyard from inside home
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Bug proof your yard

It’s a good idea to do everything you can to make your home and yard less appealing to mosquitoes. Get rid of any standing water, including in buckets, bird baths, or kiddie pools. Walk around your home and close up any gaps in screens or doors with weather stripping. If you live in a mosquito-prone area, consider having your yard sprayed. But you can skip the “bug zappers” as they don’t work. They instead can kill beneficial insects and birds as well as mosquitoes, Conlon says.

light over kitchen table shining at night
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Shine a bright light

Mosquitoes are tenacious but they’re not particularly smart and it’s easy to throw off their internal cycle. Exposure to just 10 minutes of light at night suppresses biting in mosquitoes, according to a study published in Parasites and Vectors. The best part is the biting suppression lasted as long as four hours after the pulse of light.

close up of woman's socks while laying in bed
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Put on socks

File this under weird but true. Smelly feet are like sweet perfume to hungry mosquitoes, Conlon says. Showering before bed can help reduce the stinky temptation and covering up your feet with socks will reduce their ability to get to you. (Here’s another science-backed reason you should sleep with your socks on.)

close up of woman spraying perfume on arm
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Put on some sultry perfume

Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume is surprisingly effective at repelling mosquitoes according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Insect Science. The floral, fruity smell kept mosquitoes away for about two hours, working nearly as well as sprays that contain 7% DEET. It also performed better than many “all natural” insect repellents.

man sleeping on bed with long pajama pants on
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Wear long pajamas

Less bare skin means less space mosquitoes can reach. Wear long pants, long sleeves, and socks, and make sure they’re tight around the ankles, wrists, and collar so mosquitoes can’t sneak underneath. In addition, consider light colors. “Red, navy blue, and black are the three worst colors when it comes to trying to avoid mosquitoes, but anything dark will attract them considerably more than lighter shades,” says Kevin Chan, PhD, MHA, entomologist for Mosquito Squad. (Here’s why you’re a mosquito target.)

close up of standing fan in home
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Run a fan

Keeping a fan by your bed can help you keep cool and block out sound with some white noise. But it can also keep mosquitoes away. Getting a breeze going can protect against mosquitoes, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. It works in a couple of ways. Mosquitoes are weak fliers, moving about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour, so a strong wind can make it hard for them to get to you. Plus, mosquitoes find their targets through scent and the carbon dioxide you exhale, so the draft will make it harder to find you. (Here are other things mosquitoes absolutely hate.)

woman in the bathroom at night after taking a shower
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Shower before bed

One of the reasons mosquitoes find people to bite is through the scent of their sweat, which might have to do with the lactic acid in it. Rinse off the day’s sweat in the shower to make yourself less of a target for hungry bugs. Then dry off completely before crawling into bed, Chan says. (Here are ways you’re probably showering wrong.)

man closing window in home
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Keep your windows closed

Warm summer nights make it tempting to sleep with your windows open but if you’re concerned about biting bugs, don’t do it. Mosquitoes are masters of finding any tiny opening to get into your house. Window screens provide some protection, but closing your windows and doors and making sure there aren’t any gaps will ensure they don’t get in, Conlon says.  (Here’s what to eat to keep mosquitoes away.)

essential oil bottle
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Spritz essential oils

Citronella, lemon, cinnamon, and eucalyptus essential oils may deter the pesky bugs, according to a study published in BioMed Research International. The plants produce natural chemicals that interfere with the bugs’ sense of smell, which may keep them away from you. Make sure to dilute essential oil with water and before you spray it around your bedroom.