Spiders and Sleeping

Some headlines simply can’t be ignored.

Like “Do You Actually Swallow a Bunch of Spiders When You Sleep?” There is an urban legend that the average person will ingest about eight spiders a year while sleeping. Presumably the spiders are active enough and most people sleep with their mouths open enough that, well, accidents will happen.

The latest word from science is we shouldn’t be worried. According to Michael Skvarla, Ph.D., insect identifier and extension educator in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University, “The idea that spiders crawl into people’s mouths while they sleep, let alone that you swallow a certain number of spiders a year—5, 8, 10—is a myth.”

Two reasons back him up. First, spiders don’t behave like this. Many species that live in houses tend to stay close to home — their webs. After all, you want to be there when dinner arrives. And they’re going to weave a web where they think prey will show up — a different definition of spider-sense. (The exception is males who are ready to mate, but they don’t wander that far.) Besides, the ways we move in our sleep send out the wrong kinds of vibrations to attract them.

Second, even if a spider would somehow wander into your mouth, we don’t swallow that way. “Knowing the anatomy of our mouths and our throats and the physiology of how we sleep, it’s nearly impossible,” says Erich Voigt, M.D., chief of general/sleep otolaryngology at NYU Langone Health.

If you’re still worried about the nearly part, Jason Abramowitz, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat physician with ENT and Allergy Associates, reminds us that “We still maintain sensation [in] our faces and necks when sleeping and can potentially feel something crawling on our faces.” Even in your sleep, you can brush small unwanted objects away. And don’t forget the last line of defense — the old gag reflex.

So tonight you can sleep soundly without worrying about spiders. On the other hand, cockroachs crawling into your ear….

Taken from https://www.self.com/story/swallow-spiders-sleep? The photo came from that site.

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