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spider in web

Here's the truth behind how many spiders you eat in your sleep

Despite all our unique qualities and amazing abilities, humankind is a pretty wimpy race. I mean, look at it this way: we're at the top of the food chain, we've got a mastery over technology, and - compared to all the other animals on planet Earth - we're pretty much the most intelligent life forms in existence.

And yet, we're scared of spiders.

Of course, some of these fears are justified, as there are places in the world that are home to potentially deadly arachnids. However, even in places where there are literally no venomous spiders present at all, people still report being terrified of the creepy little critters.

And perhaps this goes some way to explaining why the old wives' tale that a person eats eight spiders a year is so prevalent.

No matter where you're from, you've probably heard the rumor before.

Perhaps you first heard it at school, when it was being passed around by squeamish six-year-olds who were petrified that they'd wake up one night with a mouth full of legs; or maybe you didn't hear it until you were slightly older, and were tempted to brush it off as hearsay, but then other people stepped in to confirm it was true.

Either way, this idea that a person eats more than half a dozen spiders every year is nothing short of horrific. However, it is also - thankfully - false.

According to Scientific American, spiders "have no interest in humans," and tend to regard us as "just part of the landscape", rather than something they deliberately try to interact with.

Moreover, "During their forays, they usually don’t intentionally crawl into a bed because it offers no prey (unless it has bedbugs, in which case that person has bigger problems)."

It also might not surprise you to know that, due to our size, spiders are actually afraid of human beings.

alt Credit Getty

While we're asleep, human beings breathe, have a beating heart, snore, wriggle, and sometimes even sleep talk - all of which cause vibrations. These tiny movements are then detected by spiders, who usually consider them to be a warning sign.

"Vibrations are a big slice of spiders’ sensory universe. A sleeping person is not something a spider would willingly approach," says Rob Crawford, an expert from Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Scientific American also points out that, even if spiders weren't super alert to a peacefully sleeping human being, we'd probably be aware of them:

"From the standpoint of human biology, the oral spider myth also seems ridiculous. If someone is sleeping with her mouth open, she’s probably snoring—and thus scaring off any eight-legged transgressors. Plus, many people would likely be awakened by the sensation of a spider crawling over their faces and into their mouths."

alt Credit: Getty

So, there you have it. Unless you're going round deliberately picking spiders off the ground to enjoy for a mid-afternoon snack, it's most likely that your average yearly arachnid consumption is a big fat zero. With that being considered, you really don't have to worry about that tiny bug you saw crawling around your room earlier.

Unless you're in Australia, of course. Then you might want to worry a tiny bit.