Where Do Spiders Sleep?

December 14, 2023

Despite popular myths, spiders are unlikely to crawl all over you in your sleep. Instead, they tend to rest far away from you, hiding in cracks of walls and, among species that burrow, in tunnels. They may even hibernate during the cold. Spiders don’t have eyelids, but they do reduce their activity levels and lower their metabolic rates when they are in a resting state. This can help them conserve energy and survive without eating for long periods.

Daniela Roessler, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Konstanz who led the study, trained cameras on baby jumping spiders to see how they slept at night. She found that the spiders’ legs and abdomens flickered, which is similar to what happens in REM sleep in humans and other animals. “It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,” she tells the AP. “This was a very sleep-like state.”

The researchers also found that the spiders’ retinas moved at regular durations and intervals, much like in human REM sleep. The results support the hypothesis that jumping spiders are indeed sleeping, but scientists need to do other observational tests to prove it, including testing whether they react more slowly, or at all, to triggers that would typically set them off.

Unlike some other insects, such as crickets and fruit flies, jumping spiders are too close to us to have evolved to have a dream-like state. But the research adds to a growing understanding of sleep-like states in animals that are very different from humans, and expands on findings from other studies that have shown that lizards, reptiles and even octopuses experience REM-like behavior.

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