Swallowing Spiders While We Sleep: Myth or Fact?

Oh, no bacon and eggs for me, thanks, I already ate.

You’ve probably been told a few times in your lifetime that you swallow 4-8 spiders per year while you’re sleeping. I heard this tasty tidbit in high school and accepted it, not really caring too much, but accepting it nonetheless. I mean, I had once woke up with a spider on my face when I was cottaging in The Great White North, so I guess it’s plausible that if I hadn’t woke up, that 8 legged jerk-bag could have crawled into my mouth, slapped around my uvula a bit, then headed down my throat to my stomach for a quick nap.

It wasn’t until recently, when some spider eating sonuvabitch reiterated this “fact” to me, that I questioned it. I thought, no way, that’s bullshit.

First of all, how could anyone possibly garner any sort of valid research on this? Cameras, always aimed at various people’s mouths while they sleep over the course of a year? Sure, sounds likely. Maybe two scientists working in shifts, putting into practice a you watch my mouth, I’ll watch yours kind of deal? I’m not saying it’s impossible to study this, but it would be very very difficult.

The Truth:

According to Snopes.com, the self-proclaimed definitive source for urban legends: in the early 90s, while you were belting out Boyz II Men songs into your hairbrush, a columnist for PC Professional magazine, Lisa Holst wanted to demonstrate just how gullible the general public was.  She did this by creating a list of “facts” and statistics, including the nap time spider noshing gem, which she found in an old 1954 book on insect folklore called Insect Fact and Folklore. Just as she thought, suckers everywhere accepted it. No questions asked.

NOTE: While I’ve found proof of the 1954 book, I have no proof that PC Professional or Lisa Holst exist, which is a little shady. A myth used to debunk a myth? Could it be possible?

So Do I Eat Spiders or What?

There’s a possibility, but chances are pretty slim spiders will be your next breakfast. 8 per year? Hells no. Of course there are people who, against all odds, will eat some spiders in their lifetime just like some people get struck by lightning, some people win the lottery, and some ladies are really thin above the waist and largely obese below it. The world is a mind boggling place.

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