No one…literally no one…wants to even think about this. But it’s been a pervasive statement for as long as I can remember.
Luckily, that “fact” you may have heard about people swallowing 8 spiders in their sleep each year…it ain’t true. Not even close, really, as it genuinely flies in the face of the biology of both spiders & humans. So, it’s highly unlikely a spider would ever even end up in your mouth to begin with.
There are 3 or 4 spider species that live in most North American homes, and you’re likely to find them either tending to their webs or hunting in non-humany areas. When they are out & about, they usually don’t intentionally crawl into your bed. Why? Because it doesn’t usually have any prey for them (unless it has bed bugs, in which case…you have a bigger problem to worry about). Spiders also have no interest in humans; they look at us like they would a big rock, because we’re so large to them. We’re really just part of the landscape.
More than anything, spiders probably find snoozing humans terrifying. A slumbering person breathes, has a beating heart, and likely snores, which are all things that create vibrations warning spiders of danger. So, a spider would not intentionally approach a sleeping person.
The myth also seems ridiculous from a human biology standpoint. If someone sleeps with their mouth open, they’re probably snoring, which would scare off any 8-legged interlopers. Plus, most folks would, more than likely, get woken up by the sensation of a spider crawling on their face, even more so their mouth.
Spider experts do admit that a sleeping person could plausibly swallow a spider, but it would be a strictly random event. But, people who claim to have swallowed spiders never seem to have any concrete evidence (since most humans race to flush spiders down the toilet whenever they have the chance). Nor are there ever any eyewitnesses for such a frequent event as 8 spiders a year would be. So, even if you heard or read that 8-spider-per-year statistic from what you’d consider a trustworthy source (y’know, like your fishing buddy or a Snapple cap), you can rest assured that it doesn’t have a leg to stand on…or 8 legs, as the case may be.
Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.