A simple question, but not so easy to answer definitively… After all it is quite hard to tell just by looking at a worm whether it is asleep.
I can reveal that yes, worms do sleep. Not in the standard daily cycle we’re used to, but via aestivation (from the Latin, aestus; summer) which is a period of dormancy like hibernation – not through the cold winter months but through the hot, dry summer ones.
As for dreams – well, earthworms don’t have eyes so they won’t dream in pictures. They will feel their dreams through the other senses; the sensation of burrowing, the tastes in the soil, sounds and feelings and textures. Examples of worm dreams may include:-
- Happy, content dreams of good times. Rich, damp soil going on for miles. Lots of wormy friends. Fresh cow pats and cool rain.
- Constantly trying to push through rocks and being stuck. A sign of dissatisfaction in life and lack of purpose.
- Being dug up and eaten by a bird. Common worm nightmare.
- Heavy, rhythmic thumping and scraping drawing nearer. The feeling of being chased. Standard impending doom dream when there are things worrying the worm. Usually the dream stops before the doom arrives, but in extreme cases, the dream may continue to being chopped in half by a spade.
I wouldn’t like to comment on how happy worms are in general and how often they have nightmares, but it would be nice to believe that they mostly live content lives and dream of nice things.