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The oversized spider is creeping up your leg. Its eyes lock with yours. You swat it, but its hairy legs hold tight to your skin. With every inch it crawls, it grows stronger, along with your anxiety. You freeze as the creature advances up your torso.

Terror grips your throat as the spider approaches your face. The scream is silent. Yet, it wakes you up. The spider dream, in all its variations, leaves your skin crawling.

Read on as we explore what spiders might symbolize in dreams and if there’s a way to keep spiders out of your dreams.

Dreams are highly subjective. One key factor may lie in the meaning spiders hold for you. It has a lot to do with culture and personal life experiences.

Are you petrified of spiders? Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, is quite common. Or do you find them fascinating and appreciate their vital role in the ecosystem? Are you inclined to watch in awe as a spider spins a web, or are you more likely to destroy it?

Dream interpretation is complicated and research is difficult. It’s nearly impossible to get good data or solid scientific evidence to back up dream interpretation theories. Dreams easily escape memory or morph in the retelling.

Dr. Alex Dimitriu is board certified in both psychiatry and sleep medicine, and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. He told Healthline that dreams can come from many places and represent many things. And it’s the dreamer who can best make sense of them.

“With respect to dreams of spiders, it helps to realize that dreams can be symbolic as well, and may not be best interpreted at face value. For someone who has a deep-seated fear of spiders, dreaming of them in a particular setting may well represent fears around that particular issue,” Dimitriu said.

“It would be important to explore the relationship to spiders vis-a-vis current issues or fears in the person’s life,” he said.

Is it a silky work of art and a testament to work ethic? Is it a death trap for the unwary insect? Does the mere thought of touching one make your flesh crawl?

A spider web could symbolize a web of lies, feeling trapped, or delicate beauty. How you feel about spider webs in general, and the overall setting of the dream, are clues to the dream’s meaning.

Many people believe that dreams hold great meaning. And, a small 2004 research review suggested that dream exploration can be a valuable therapeutic tool. But specific things in a dream won’t have the same meaning for everyone.

According to a 2020 research review, co-creative dream theory suggests that details provide less meaning than emotional reaction. The spider may not say as much as whether it frightened you or delighted you — whether you ran away, stepped on it, or gently cradled it in your hand. Where and when the spider appeared and how you felt about it when you woke up is likely what matters most.

There’s no scientific research that can confirm that someone is having a spiritual experience. Spirituality itself means different things to different people.

A 2009 research review into how laypeople interpret their dreams suggests that in both Eastern and Western cultures, people believe dreams hold hidden truths. But people tend to interpret their dreams according to preexisting beliefs.

Various faiths and cultures assign a different spiritual meaning to spiders.

Is there a meaning behind white spiders in dreams?

Truly white animals are rare in nature. That may explain their sacred status in legends and mythology. In many cultures, white animals represent positivity.

There’s no way to totally manage dreams. But you may have fewer scary dreams if you can lower your stress level, deal with unresolved concerns, and get enough quality sleep. Here are a few tips that might help you sleep well and have better dreams.

  • Exercise every day, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Aim for 7 or more hours of sleep a night. Make your bedroom as restful and comfortable as possible.
  • Use the hour before bedtime for relaxing activities.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine.
  • Start a dream journal. Writing may help reveal how dreams reflect your waking life. That might help you begin confronting the real concern.

Recurring nightmares can be a sign of high stress or anxiety. This can interfere with your sleep pattern and affect overall health. You may want to speak with your primary care doctor or a mental health professional who can help you manage stress and anxiety.

Everybody dreams, though we don’t always remember. There’s no consensus as to why we dream, or if dreams hold meaning at all. Theories include:

  • threat simulation
  • emotional regulation
  • memory consolidation
  • unresolved concerns

“Freud believed in the concept of ‘day residue’ to explain the content of people’s dreams,” Dimitriu said. “Day residue is the brain continuing to process material from the day. So, someone with an issue at work may dream of their boss, or some other stressful situation.”

People have all kinds of dreams. They’re difficult to research and there’s no scientific way to interpret them. The significance of dreams about spiders is yours to interpret.

Think about what spiders mean to you, how you reacted within the dream, and how you felt about it when you woke up. Can you relate that to something happening in your life? It’s also possible that a dream about spiders holds no significance for you.

If you’re troubled by unpleasant dreams, it may be worth speaking with a doctor.