Don't Sleep with Your Mouth Open!

For those who sleep mouth agape, drool oozing; snoring may not be the only hazard faced when the lights go down.

Those creepy-crawly little spider friends we forget to sweep out from under the bed or from their delicate webs in the corner may just crawl inside our mouths—and right down the hatch—while we're off in dreamland.

Or will they?

The Great Debate

That's been the subject of great debate since 1993, when a magazine columnist supposedly began circulating a list of ridiculous, random "facts" on the Internet.

Lisa Holst, writer for a magazine titled PC Professional, couldn't believe how gullible most people seemed when it came to stories and untruths circulating online and through email. So, to prove her point and to see what would happen, she published some misinformation on insect folklore garnered from a book printed in 1954.

Perhaps it was man's curiosity that won out. Or maybe his vulnerability for the gross and unbelievable. Whatever it was, the rumors began to fly, and the great debate surfaced: do we really swallow spiders while we're sleeping?

A Simple Lack of Proof

People afraid of these eight-legged creatures swear the claim is untrue, no matter what evidence they find to the contrary. Others, who enjoy making people squirm at the thought of spiders taking up residence in our stomachs and mouths, exaggerate the rumors and laugh at our gullibility.

Though proof has never been found to exist one way or the other—and no such columnist was ever found to exist at the publication mentioned above—the possibility we actually swallow spiders in our sleep nevertheless exists.

So what's the risk it actually happens? And how often?

Just the Facts, Jack

Some say we swallow four, five or more spiders every year while we're sleeping. Others say 20 or more in a lifetime.

Let's take a look at the facts, both for and against the possibility—and decide for ourselves.

FOR

AGAINST

Spiders lay small, almost microscopic eggs in out-of-the-way places: on window ledges, lampshades, in corners and under beds. Once hatched, hundreds can float around the room on air currents—and drop silently anywhere.

Most people don't sleep with their mouths open for extended periods of time, making spiders less likely to enter.

Spiders like damp, dark places—making the mouth a perfect candidate.

With a lush supply of nerve endings that detect items like too-hot coffee and dripping food, a spider running across the lips would most likely waken a sleeping person.

Some sleep therapists claim to have videotaped people sleeping—with spiders crawling into their mouths, nostrils and ears. Disturbing!

Unlikely to hang out around the mouth, breathing seems to scare most spiders, which crawl away from moving air, not toward it.

No scientific or medical records exist documenting that anyone has ever swallowed a spider.

With evidence pointing in both directions—but solid proof in neither one—we may never know the real truth.

Though scientists say ingesting spiders doesn't hurt us one way or the other, take our advice, just in case: sleep with your mouth shut!


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