Studies Researching the Idea That Spiders Might Have Dreams

When we go off to sleep, we often hope that we have a memorable dream. Some of the most satisfying sleep we have come after having an intense dream – even if the dream itself does not make sense. However, as humans we often that things like dreams are something only humans, or those with genuine consciousness, can enjoy. Is that the case, though? 

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According to a study being carried out, even the humble arachnids that populate our homes might have the ability to dream. The study is carried out at the moment and looks to find out if insects can dream. Beforehand, we assumed that it was only mammals who could produce dreams.

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior found within birds has also been spotted when looking into the behavior of tiny jumping spiders. So, it appears that an attribute we once assumed was for mammals only might be more widespread than we thought.

The study has carried out a look at the eyes of jumping spiders. When they slept, the study found that their eyes produced rapid eye movements. REM sleep is considered to be the most effective form of sleep and is essential for our memories and our ability to learn and retain information. When we have REM sleep, our eyes move around rapidly (hence the name) and brain activity jumps, hence our vivid and strong dreams.

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What has the study into jumping spiders sleeping patterns found?

Well, this study found that sleeping spiders were able to produce the same kind of REM sleep conditions. The study, carried out by Dr. Daniela Rößler of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, is hugely interesting. During these phases, you can actually see the legs of the spider twitching – sometimes, all legs move up and curl up, almost as if the spider has died.

While we have no proper evidence yet that spiders can in fact dream, this does look quite promising that they enjoy the same REM sleep sensibilities that we do as humans. Despite the fact that jumping spiders do not have eye lenses, they do have retinal tubes that can be moved around to help them adjust the focus of their eyes. Very cool!

So, not only are jumping spiders among the coolest of the spider family, but they also might be among the most illuminating and interesting.