The idea that people swallow an average of eight spiders per year while they sleep has been circulating for many years, creeping out countless individuals. But is there any truth to this creepy claim? In this article, we will explore the origins of the “spiders swallowed while sleeping” myth and debunk it with scientific evidence.
The Origin of the Myth
The myth of swallowing spiders is an enduring urban legend that has been around for decades. It has been passed down through word of mouth, shared in books, and circulated on the internet. Despite its prevalence, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim.
One of the earliest references to this myth dates back to a 1993 book titled “Insects as Food: Aboriginal Australia to Zimbabwe.” In the book, the author, Dr. Marlene Zuk, mentioned that she’d heard that people swallow an average of eight spiders per year while sleeping. However, it’s essential to note that Dr. Zuk didn’t cite any scientific research to support this claim. Instead, she used it as an example of how myths can persist without any substantiated basis.
Debunking the Myth
The myth of swallowing spiders is, in fact, just that – a myth. There are several compelling reasons why this claim is implausible:
Spider Behavior: Spiders are not interested in crawling into your mouth. They typically prefer dark and quiet places, and the vibrations and exhalations from a sleeping person would likely deter them.
Spider Detection: Humans have a highly sensitive sense of touch and taste. If a spider were to crawl into your mouth, you would likely wake up immediately and remove it, even in your sleep.
Lack of Evidence: No scientific studies or reliable sources support the idea that people swallow spiders during their sleep. It’s merely a piece of folklore that has been perpetuated over the years.
Spiders’ Avoidance Behavior: Spiders are more likely to avoid humans than crawl into their mouths. They are shy creatures that hide from disturbances, making the notion of them voluntarily entering a human’s mouth highly unlikely.
Discrepancies in the Myth: Different versions of the myth claim that you swallow between four and eight spiders per year, but there is no consistent number. This lack of uniformity further underscores the myth’s dubious nature.
The Truth about Sleep and Spiders
While the idea of swallowing spiders while sleeping is unfounded, it’s essential to be aware of the relationship between sleep and the environment. Spiders, like many other insects, can sometimes inadvertently find their way into our homes, including our bedrooms. To minimize the presence of spiders in your sleeping area, consider the following tips:
Keep Your Sleeping Area Clean: Regularly clean and declutter your bedroom to reduce hiding spots for spiders. Vacuuming, dusting, and tidying up can help keep spiders at bay.
Seal Entry Points: Inspect your bedroom for any cracks or openings that spiders could use to enter. Seal these gaps to prevent them from getting inside.
Use Screens: Consider installing window and door screens to prevent spiders and other insects from entering your home.
Reduce Outdoor Lighting: Bright outdoor lighting can attract insects, which, in turn, may attract spiders. Consider using lower-intensity outdoor lighting to minimize this effect.
Shake Out Bedding: Before getting into bed, give your sheets and blankets a shake to dislodge any potential hidden spiders or insects.
The myth that you swallow an average of eight spiders per year while sleeping is simply not true. It is an urban legend without scientific backing and is likely a product of people’s fear of spiders and a penchant for sharing creepy stories. Spiders prefer to avoid humans and are unlikely to crawl into your mouth while you sleep.
While the idea of swallowing spiders while sleeping is indeed false, it’s important to be proactive in keeping your sleeping area free from unwanted arachnid guests. By maintaining a clean and well-sealed sleeping space, you can minimize the likelihood of any spiders finding their way into your bedroom. Rest easy, knowing that the myth of spider ingestion during sleep is nothing more than a spooky tale with no factual basis.