February 8, 2023

Is it true that we swallow 8 spiders a year while we sleep? | Radio Studio 87.7 FM

You’ve probably seen a rumor around the Internet — or even off the Internet, since it’s an old quip, repeated for decades — that we humans eat about 8 spiders a year while we sleep, without even realizing it. From the number of spiders eaten to the fact itself, the supposed data is appalling, even more so than spiders, who should not be preaching sleep over this. But is this true?

The answer is no! Only 8 spiders are involuntarily fed while we sleep annually, and in fact there is no data to support even one such event. Since science has never seen links between the secretive preference of some spiders for human mouths, or the advantages they would have for entering our bodies, it likely never happened.

The science of sleep and spiders

The chances of this happening are very low. When someone sleeps with their mouth open, which is a necessary condition for the accident, it is common for them to snore. A sound like this would startle and scare away any nearby spiders. Even if the animal in question is brave and still decides to explore this airway, we will surely wake up because of the sensation of several spider legs walking on our face, tongue or mouth.

A Scientific American article in 2014 notes that the myth would conflict with the biology of both humans and spiders. The beds we use, at least in the West, do not attract any particular spider, because the chance of offering any succulent prey to the animals is very low, almost zero.

Experts also point out that we are a bad surface for spiders to climb or stand on, because we create vibrations with our heartbeat and breathing. For a spider, vibrations are very important, and any change in this direction pushes them away. Purposefully climbing a sleeping human is not a very attractive pastime for animals.

Where did the rumors come from?

There’s no way to know exactly where the rumor started, but there are a few theories. A 1954 book entitled Insect Facts and Folklore (a free translation of the original Insect Fact and Folklore) brings in this information, for example, that may have been picked up when, in 1993, a newspaper column cited the fable as an example of a lie so easily accepted as fact by population.

The problem is that, apparently, this was not in the aforementioned book, and the PC Professional column, which was going to talk about this topic, is not there either. So, did someone invent all of this just to convey a fictional fact as if it were true, without good reason? On the subject, all we have is that, back in 1999, the British newspaper The Guardian included the alleged fact in its list of curiosities – but there’s no way of knowing where it got that from.

Source: Scientific AmericanAnd Watchman

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