Sweet dreams, spidey: Arachnids experience REM sleep, and may even dream

Imagine a spider hanging from a silky thread, as still as a corpse, until its eight legs unexpectedly tremble. While this might sound like a horror movie, it’s actually a nightly experience for jumping spiders (Evarcha arcuate) who can reach rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage in which most dreaming occurs, a new study finds.

In the study, published Aug. 8 in the newspaper Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (opens in new tab), researchers used cameras to examine jumping spiders while they slept, watching the motions of the arachnids’ eyes and bodies throughout the night. The twitching movements the team witnessed as the spiders snoozed was similar to that seen in humans and other mammals such as dogsas well as nonavian reptiles and cephalopods during REM sleep.

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