Will sleeping with a light on keep cockroaches away? Maybe.

German cockroach undeterred by bedroom light

Ever heard that sleeping with the lights on keeps cockroaches away? Sleeping with your lights won’t always deter roaches but it sometimes keeps them away for a few nights. This isn’t a long term solution, though, because roaches eventually get used to or become hungry enough to ignore the light.

Reddit post about finding cockroach in room before sleep
Reddit post about finding a cockroach in bedroom before sleep

Most cockroaches are nocturnal, meaning they tend to be more active at night while you’re sleeping and still. If you leave your lights on overnight, it might initially confuse nocturnal roaches into thinking it’s still daylight (when roaches normally hide and sleep), making them more skittish than normal.

Nocturnal cockroaches normally become accustomed to no human activity in your home while the lights are out. When you wake up and flip on the light to go to the bathroom at night, roaches scurry away because they associate light with a potential threat (meaning they’ll see the light and think of your shoe hurling towards them).

Eventually, however, even nocturnal roaches can get accustomed a light left on when they no longer associate it with danger. Leaving your lights on while you sleep might deter cockroaches for a few days or so before they ignore the light.

Also, if you have a significant roach infestation, lights won’t deter them because they’re so many of them competing for food. You can see this situation in the video below.

Video showing hundreds of roaches in a man’s home after he flipped his lights on to use the restroom at night. Notice how the roaches are undeterred by the lights.

In this article, we’ll explain short-term techniques to keep roaches away from you while you’re sleeping (so you can get sound sleep) and show you how to implement longer-term roach control strategies. Sleeping with your lights on might help keep roaches away for a night or two, but I wouldn’t count on it working much longer than that.

Let me know in the comments if you have additional questions and you can skip to specific sections via the table of contents.

bedroom with ample lighting
When hungry, cockroaches will even venture into bedrooms with ample light.

Are cockroaches attracted to light?

There are also some roaches that are attracted to light. For example, Asian cockroaches and Wood cockroaches can be attracted to porch lights. This means leaving the lights on while you sleep might actually attract certain cockroach species.

So it’s best to identify what type of cockroach is present in your home before you try leaving your lights on at night to keep them away. Once you identify what type of cockroach is in your home, you can look it up and to see if it’s attracted to light.

But it’s a little more complicated than this.

Recent research suggests different light wavelengths can either repel or attract the same cockroach species (in this study the Turkestan cockroach or Blatta lateralis).

In this study, Abdullah Burhan and Nimet Gençer put Turkestan cockroaches through a series of orientation trials. The roaches’ best orientation was under dark conditions.

Under various wavelengths, Turkestan cockroaches’ orientation was best under red light and worse under blue light. Burhan and Gençer hypothesized that blue light might serve as a non-chemical cockroach repellent by interfering with their orientation.

Can cockroaches get into your bed?

Cockroaches can climb onto your bed easily, but they’re unlikely to do so unless there are food crumbs in your bed. If you’re worried about cockroaches climbing on you while you sleep, ensure you’re not eating in your bed.

Person found cockroaches crawling on their headboard
This person found cockroaches crawling on their headboard.

If you previously ate in bed, clean your sheets and pillowcase and vacuum or sweep. You want to remove any food crumbs you might have spilled on your bed or in your bedroom.

In really bad roach infestations, many cockroaches often compete for sparse food sources. During such extensive roach infestations, roaches have crawled onto and bitten people during their sleep, but this is rare.

Video showing a very bad roach and bed bug infestation. Notice the larger roaches hiding in the mattress.

Beyond food, cockroaches are attracted to heat since they’re cold-blooded. A sleeping person’s body heat can attract cockroaches, but this is rare.

Can I sleep with roaches in my room?

You can sleep with cockroaches in your room. Whether you can fall asleep after seeing a roach in your bedroom, though, is another story.

father and baby sleeping in a room with cockroaches

Cockroaches will normally leave you alone, preferring to scavenge food crumbs in your bedroom. So, it’s generally safe to sleep in a room where you know there may be a few cockroaches.

It is possible that they crawl on you at night, try to nibble on you, or even crawl into your ear while you’re asleep. These, however, are rare occurrences.

person who had a roach crawl on their leg when laying down to sleep
This person had a roach crawl on their leg when laying down to sleep

If you use one of the roach deterrent techniques below, you should be able to keep roaches away while you sleep.

How do you sleep knowing there are cockroaches?

First, you really need to address the cockroach infestation in your apartment or apartment (this usually requires thorough cleaning and using roach baits and traps).

But, let’s say you noticed a few roaches running across your floor just before bedtime.

You won’t eliminate your cockroach problem in one night. So how can you sleep peacefully tonight knowing there are roaches where you sleep?

We already know that sleeping with the lights on won’t necessarily deter all types of roaches. But there are still some things that can help.

person had roaches wake them up from sleep three times in a week
This person had roaches wake them up from sleep three times in one week

Soapy water roach deterrent

The easiest and fastest is to grab a squirt bottle and dish soap or fabric softener. Mix water to the dish soap (like Dawn) or fabric softener in a squirt bottle.

Then spray the mixture around your room. If you have a hardwood or tile floor, you can spray a good amount of this around. If you have carpet, you might not want to spray too much. Make sure you spray a good amount along the baseboards because roaches like to hide along cracks in these.

Video showing several natural roach repellents

Essential oil roach deterrent

Cockroaches have a strong sense of smell. You can use this to your advantage by mixing some essential oils with water and spraying it on your bed sheets, pillow case, and the floor around your bed.

If you have an essential oil diffuser, put one of the below oils in it and leave it running in your bedroom overnight.

Video with some tips to keep roaches away from your bed while your sleep

Again, though, you need to remove any food crumbs that might be attracting them. If they’re hungry enough, roaches might ignore essential oils in their attempt to get to the food crumbs in your bedroom.

Here’s a list of some essential oil that cockroaches tend to avoid:

  • Peppermint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus

Since you’re only using the scent and not consuming or putting these essential oils on your skin, I’d go with one of the cheaper options.

mint oil for repelling roaches
Mint essential oil can help deter roaches

Spice as roach repellents

Some folks claim bay leaves or cinnamon sticks repel for the same reasons that the above essential oils repel roaches. If you have bay leaves or cinnamon sticks handy, try placing them in a bowl and set that out on your bedroom floor.

How can I get rid of all the roaches that run around while I sleep?

We have an extensive guide to getting rid of cockroaches here, but you need to:

  1. Identify what type of cockroach is in your home: Some types of roaches require slightly different strategies. For example, German roaches like corrugated cardboard, so if you have a German roach infestation, you’ll want to remove any old moving boxes. There are other peculiarities to eradicating other roach types.
  2. Remove what attracts them: This is usually food crumbs or open food containers. Also, remove your trash daily before you sleep (or several times a day while you’re addressing your roach problem). Fix any leaks (roaches like moisture) and remove any standing water.
  3. Seal any obvious openings: Cockroaches can squeeze through tiny cracks. So, inspect your home or apartment for cracks and openings that roaches might be getting through. Focus your inspection around doors and windows or where your plumbing meets your drywall (sewer roaches often get in here). You can use silicone caulk to seal small most openings.
  4. Employ roach bait and poison: There are roach gel baits that you can place around your home or apartment that work well. You place a few little drops in places where you’ve seen roaches or where you think they might be hiding. Once they eat it, they’ll eventually die somewhere (often belly-up). You’ll want to keep up on removing dead cockroaches because if food is scarce, living cockroaches will consume dead roaches. Roach traps are sticky enough so that once roaches crawl onto them, they can’t move. You should toss these and switch them out as they get filled up with cockroaches.
person had roach crawl on them while sleeping
This person had roach crawl on them while sleeping.


To conclude, leaving some lights on while you sleep might keep roaches away for a few nights but they’ll eventually get used to the lights.

A better way to get a good night’s sleep when you know you have roaches is to remove all trash, water, and clutter. Vacuum your floor if you have time. Then try spraying soapy water around the baseboard or an essential oil-water mixture on your bed linens.

Then, the next day when you have more time, implement longer-term roach removal strategies or contact a cockroach control professional.

Categorized as Cockroaches

By David Jackson

I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and sharing what I learn at NeverPest.com. I aim to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.

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