Do spiders sleep as humans do? Experts weigh in on new study suggesting they might

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Spiders might keep some arachnophobes up at night — but do the creepy crawlers get any shuteye themselves?

A new study leads some scientists to believe spiders may snooze just as humans do.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), involved monitoring the behavior of baby jumping spiders at night.

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The footage revealed movements often experienced during normal sleep cycles, including limb twitching, leg curling and eye flickering.

This photo provided by Daniela C. Roessler in August 2022 shows a jumping spider (E. arcuata) exhibiting leg curling during a REM sleep-like state as part of a study.
(Daniela C. Roessler via AP)

The scientists considered the patterns a “REM sleep–like state,” after closely observing these movements directly through the spiderlings’ temporarily translucent exoskeleton. 

In humans, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the active phase of sleep closely linked to dreaming, according to the Associated Press.

The study claimed that retinal movement in the spiders was consistent, including regular durations and intervals — much like humans.

A close-up of a small jumping spider; these spiders make great hunters, using very agile movements that give their prey no time to react. 

A close-up of a small jumping spider; these spiders make great hunters, using very agile movements that give their prey no time to react. 
(Javier Torrent /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Even though a spider’s resting state looks a lot like the REM sleep of other species such as cats and dogs, researchers have yet to determine if the bugs are actually sleeping, evolutionary biologist and study scientist Daniela Roessler told AP.

Roessler is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

She explained that scientists plan to prove if spiders really snooze by using triggers to test whether the spiders respond more slowly, or at all, to stimuli that would normally set them off.

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Other experts weighed in on the exciting possibilities of the new findings — while some showed skepticism.

This is another photo provided by Daniela C. Roessler in August 2022 that shows a jumping spider (E. arcuata) exhibiting leg curling behavior during a REM sleep-like state.

This is another photo provided by Daniela C. Roessler in August 2022 that shows a jumping spider (E. arcuata) exhibiting leg curling behavior during a REM sleep-like state.
(Daniela C. Roessler via AP)

“There may be animals that have activity in quiet states,” UCLA sleep researcher Jerry Siegel told the AP. 

“But are they [in] REM sleep?”

Gene Kritsky, dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, shared with Fox News Digital that the “fascinating” study expands on the knowledge that other species such as octopus and some birds experience REM sleep, too.

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“Spiders, being arthropods, really expand the number of creatures that experience REM sleep,” he said.

A zebra jumping spider (Salticus scenicus) is shown here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on August 11, 2021. 

A zebra jumping spider (Salticus scenicus) is shown here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on August 11, 2021. 
(Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“That so many creatures experience REM sleep suggests there may be an adaptive value to REM sleep that we have not fully explored.”

Kritsky added that this study raises many questions, including if spiders can dream — which would require intricate technology to study brain activity.

“After all, their brains are very small, smaller than the head of a pin,” he pointed out.

Source: Fox News


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