Travelsheets and Sleep Sacks have been around for about twenty years. First invented to protect the inside of sleeping bags, they became popular with backpackers to use in hostels. While the backpacker type is typically made of silk because it is lightweight and dries very quickly, the high incidence of unclean hotel and motel bedding along with the bed bug epidemic has seen an evolution in construction to include synthetics and cottons.
Bed bugs have always been present in third world countries but in the last 10 years have spread throughout the western world and are now found practically everywhere. A Sleep Sack / Travel Sheet will prevent bed bugs from entering through the fabric as they are just too large to pass in between the fibers. Most Travelsheets are closed at the bottom and one side, leaving the other side open or attached by cloth ties or velcro. The top is always open for your head. The best Sleep Sacks are zippered, allowing easy entry and exit while providing the best possible coverage.
Bed bugs are attracted to their food ( you ), by sensing carbon dioxide from your breath and your body heat. Because the Travelsheet must have the top end open, it cannot be 100 % guaranteed to prevent bites, but by using a Sleep Sack you are limiting the access bed bugs have to your body. Biting through a high quality Travel Sheet is highly doubtful. The parts of a bed bug, the hemipteran piercing-sucking mouthparts, that actual gets inserted into your body is miniscule, less than a millimeter. The chance of a bed bug getting it’s mouth part through the fabric and deep enough into you to feed is improbable.
Make sure any Travelsheet / Sleep Sack you use is washable in hot water and that you can put it through a high heat drying cycle in your dryer. High heat is the only reliable way to kill bed bugs and especially their eggs.
Scabies, a parasite that burrows into your skin and lays eggs is much more insidious. Scabies cannot be seen by the naked eye. They are responsible for extremely itchy skin conditions and even disfiguration and scars. Scabies are most prevalent in long term care facilities for the aged , hospitals and even daycare centers as they are highly contagious and are spread mostly by skin to skin contact. But they are easily caught from shared towels and bedding or clothing. Scabies are becoming a problem in hotels due to the lack of proper laundering. A Travelsheet with a tight weave will prevent scabies from contacting your skin and because they are much smaller than bed bugs and are not as mobile, all you need is a barrier between the infested surface and your skin. Even though an adult scabies mite is only 3 millimeters in size, it’s still way too large to pass through a high quality cotton.
Any Travel Sheet / Sleep sack company should be able to supply you with the pore size of their products. Look for a Travelsheet with a pore size of about 10 microns, this will be sufficient to block bed bugs, scabies, dust mite allergens and dog dander.