Early American Trivia: Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

I love to learn little-known historical facts and trivia. So I’ve added a category of “Early American Trivia” to answer questions you don’t have with information you can’t possibly use. 🙂

I’ll start off with something from my book Spring House: Book 1 in the Westward Sagas. I want my books to read like the stories I heard growing up, and I tried to include little items that give glimpses of life in early America.

So the first trivia item comes directly from Spring House:

He tucked each of the children into bed, as always saying, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” as he cranked the ropes of their loft bed tight.

I don’t know if this saying is common where you live, but here in Texas, people still tell other to “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

The quote from Spring House gives a clue to where the expression “sleep tight” came from. The ropes that were used to support the bed tended to sag and stretch from use. Beds had a crank that could tighten the ropes to give the sleeper good support. It was better to “sleep tight” with the ropes cranked tightly than to sleep on sagging, loose ropes.

Early Americans had no way to fumigate the feathers in their beds to get rid of bed bugs, which feed on human blood. Since the bite isn’t painful at first, people didn’t know they were being bitten in their sleep and could wake up covered with bites that itched for a week or more.

So now you know …

Do you have any favorite early American trivia to share? I’d love to hear about them in comments.

[tags]early American trivia, little-known historical facts[/tags]

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