Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

Contents: Meaning | Origin | Spread

Meaning

What does Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite mean?

Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite is a popular expression, common to the bedrooms of children.

It is a rhyme said to kids before going to sleep, wishing them sweet dreams and a peaceful night.

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Origin

What's the origin of Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite?

Although there are theories as to the origin of the phrase, related to rope beds, which had to be tightened in order to remain comfortable, these claims are unsound, with no proof backing them up.

Despite this, there may be a glimpse of truth behind them, as both rope beds and bedbugs were a common occurrence in the colonial era, where the origin of the phrase can be traced back.

The first case of “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” can be found in the book of Clifton Johnson, titled “What They Say in New England, a Book of Signs, Sayings and Superstitions”, first published in 1896.

 

Spread & Usage

How did Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite spread?

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” grew widely known across the entire Anglosphere by the end of the 20th century.

A children’s book with the title “Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!” was published by Diane de Groat in 2001.

The phrase was further popularized in modern contexts by the 2010 children’s animated film “Despicable Me” where Felonious Gru, the hero of Call of Gruty is seen in one scene saying the line “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite”.

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