How Many Spiders Do You Eat in Your Sleep? Debunking a Creepy Myth

Contrary to popular belief, involuntarily swallowing spiders during sleep is highly unlikely and lacks scientific evidence to support it.

Spider Myths and Facts

Spider myths have woven their way through popular culture, creating a web of misinformation.

This section untangles fact from fiction, focusing particularly on the sleep-eating spider myth and the truth behind it.

Origins of the Sleep-Eating Spider Myth

The idea that people unwittingly swallow spiders in their sleep is an example of an urban legend that has become widely accepted as truth.

While it’s unclear exactly how this myth began, it has been a persistent belief for many decades, playing on the common fear of spiders and their nocturnal activity.

It’s often quoted that the average person swallows eight spiders a year during their sleep, a statistic designed to ensnare the gullible.

However, one proposed origin is that this was a claim made to demonstrate the credulity of readers and the power of misinformation.

Debunking Misinformation

Contrary to this sticky myth, involuntary spider-snacking during sleep is highly unlikely.

Spiders generally avoid humans, and the sensation of a spider on one’s face would likely awaken a sleeping person.

Moreover, there is no scientific evidence or eyewitness accounts that can substantiate the claim.

Websites dedicated to fact-checking, like, along with entomologists and arachnologists, have debunked this myth.

The false fact continues to propagate mainly due to its sensational nature and the prevalence of arachnophobia, but readers can rest easy knowing that this tall tale is more fiction than fact.

Human-Spider Interactions

Spiders crawling in dark bedroom, one dangling from ceiling, another scurrying across floor, and a third nestled in the corner

When night falls, our eight-legged houseguests continue their secret life, delicately avoiding any face-to-face meeting with sleeping humans.

Why Spiders Avoid Humans

Spiders, by nature, do not seek out humans.

There’s a common misconception that spiders frequently bite humans, yet both arthropod behavior and human biology suggest otherwise.

For instance, a daddy longlegs typically steers clear of larger warm-blooded mammals, as do most spider species commonly found in North American homes.

These creatures are adept at detecting vibrations and changes in their environment, employing this sensitivity to avoid contact with humans, who are comparatively gigantic and potentially threatening.

Spider Behavior in Homes

Spider behavior in domestic spaces is largely characterized by their quest for food and shelter, rather than an interest in crawling across sleeping humans.

While the feared wolf spider might look menacing due to its size and speed, it has no incentive to approach humans during sleep.

In fact, studies of arachnid behavior indicate these harmless creatures prefer corners and less-trafficked areas.

Coupled with a natural aversion to the heat and carbon dioxide produced by sleeping humans, encounters during our slumber are improbable, soothing the common fear of spiders.

Spider Behavior in Homes

Understanding these patterns can provide peace of mind and reduce unwarranted fears about these commonly misunderstood eight-legged arachnids.

Sleep Science and Insects

In a dimly lit bedroom, a person lies asleep on their back, surrounded by buzzing insects and crawling spiders.</p><p>A thought bubble above them asks, "How many spiders do you eat in your sleep?"

The intersection of sleep and insects is not only intriguing but also a bit unsettling.

The night-time brings a curious dance between humans in slumber and the insect world.

What Attracts Insects to Sleeping Humans

Many factors make snoozing humans an attraction for insects.

The warmth of a human body and the carbon dioxide exhaled during sleep act as signals for creatures like mosquitoes.

Breathing, especially through an open mouth, can also emit moisture and respiratory vibrations that lure insects.

Those who snore might inadvertently send stronger vibrations, potentially drawing in more six-legged visitors.

  • Key Elements Attracting Insects:
    • Body heat
    • Carbon dioxide output from breathing
    • Moisture from breathing/sweating
    • Vibrations from snoring

Insect Behavior During Human Sleep

Once asleep, a person’s inhibitions are lowered, making it easier for insects to crawl undetected.

Flies, mosquitoes, and cockroaches might venture onto the human face or other exposed skin in search of moisture or to follow the trails of carbon dioxide.

The stillness of a sleeping individual creates an opportune time for these insects to scavenge without the threat of being swatted away.

Insects respond to a sleeping person’s heartbeat and the blood flow near the skin, which can be detected by certain insects like mosquitoes.

  • Insect Responses to Sleep:
    • Drawn to faces for moisture and CO2
    • Undetected crawling due to human stillness
    • Attraction to blood flow vibrations near skin surfaces

While the idea of swallowing spiders or other insects during sleep is a common urban legend, it lacks scientific evidence.

In fact, the chance of an insect entering a person’s mouth while they sleep is exceedingly low due to natural reflexes and sleeping positions.