Most adults would be embarrassed to admit that they have a stuffed animal in their beds but in reality, it’s not something to be embarrassed about. In fact, it is considered normal and even healthy to do so by psychologists, sleep experts, and scientists. Let’s discuss below the benefits of sleeping with a stuffed animal.
A research study in 2017 revealed that more than 40% of adults still sleep with a soft toy. Who can blame them? There are a lot of benefits of sleeping with soft and furry stuffed animals.
What are the Benefits of Sleeping with a Stuffed Animal?
1. They serve as transitional objects
For babies, stuffed animals can serve as transitional objects that give them a sense of security and comfort even without their primary caregiver or mother around.
They help provide emotional relief to children whenever they are facing a transition in life that makes them anxious, from sleeping separately from the mother to meeting a new nanny to going to daycare for the first time, a stuffed animal helps the child cope better with these changes as it provides the child with emotional reassurance that things are okay.
One of the benefits of sleeping with stuffed animals is that it can help children become more independent and keep them from relying on the parent all the time for emotional support. This feeling of emotional comfort associated with stuffed animals can be carried well into adulthood; thus, sleeping with stuffed animals can be comforting at any age.
2. They evoke a feeling of familiarity
Stuffed animals are often associated with positive feelings since childhood. These feelings include the happiness when a child receives one as a gift, the security of being home with loved ones and people who care for the child, and the comfort and love that parents give the child.
Growing up, kids use stuffed animals to evoke these positive familiar feelings whenever they feel distressed or in an unfamiliar situation.
As adolescents and adults, the association between positive familiar emotions and stuffed animals can be retained. Thus, another benefit of sleeping with stuffed animals as a grownup includes helping create familiarity in an unfamiliar situation, such as when sleeping in a hotel room, moving out to go to college, or moving to a new home.
3. They provide comfort
Stuffed animals can serve as comfort objects for kids and adults alike. For adults, stressors in life can bring too much anxiety and loneliness, which can affect your sleep patterns, especially for those living alone or going through a huge life transition.
Sleeping with a childhood stuffed animal can help bring a sense of security in an otherwise stressful situation. It helps reduce negative emotions by bringing back happy memories, emotions, and security associated with your childhood, helping you cope with stress and anxiety.
4. They release “love” hormones
Humans have a natural tendency to prefer soft and cuddly things. When cuddling something soft and comforting like a stuffed animal, the brain releases oxytocin, or the hormones that are associated with social bonding, trust, and empathy.
One of the benefits of sleeping with stuffed animals is that it releases this hormone that leaves you feeling peaceful and soothed, thus, giving you a good night’s rest.
5. They can hold sentimental value
Aside from the emotional stability that stuffed animals can provide, another benefit of sleeping with stuffed animals is that they can hold so much sentimental value. A large percentage of adults who sleep with stuffed animals have reported that it’s the sentimental value that they cherish the most.
Along with the sentimental value comes the memories and emotions associated with special people, places, and events in the past that bring you comfort and happiness.
It’s not really the actual object that people value, rather the memories and people that the stuffed animal represents.
6. They teach you how to show affection
For most kids, sleeping with stuffed animals teach them how to be nurturing and show affection towards others. They often include their stuffed animals in their play; they kiss them good night and hug them at night before they go to sleep.
Because of past heartbreaks and trauma, some adults are withdrawn from showing affection to others. This can prevent them from forming meaningful relationships and strong bonds with others. One benefit of sleeping with stuffed animals is that it can help remind you how to be affectionate. It can evoke your childhood memories of caring for your stuffed animals like they were a baby or a friend.
In one scientific study, sleeping with stuffed animals has shown a significant improvement in adult’s attachment styles, which helped them build more secure emotional attachments in the future.
7. They can help you fall asleep faster
Your body knows that sleeping can put you in a vulnerable state, that’s why it is important that you feel relaxed, calm, and safe before you can induce a good night’s sleep. One benefit of sleeping with stuffed animals is that it helps you feel calm and secure, improving the quality of your sleep.
Furthermore, most children pair their stuffed animals with a night of good sleep, and this neural association can persist until adulthood. That’s why a lot of adults report that they sleep better with a stuffed animal on the bed.
8. They help alleviate stress
Studies have shown that petting animals result in a significant decrease in the body’s cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Further studies have shown that the same effect can be observed when touching a stuffed animal.
One of the benefits of sleeping with stuffed animals is that it reduces stress and anxiety before you sleep. Not only that, by reducing the levels of cortisol in the body, you also protect yourself from the negative impacts of this stress hormone on your health.
9. They can improve your self-esteem
Stuffed animals can help increase happiness and improve self-esteem, especially for those who are recovering from trauma and suffering from self-loathing. One benefit of sleeping with stuffed animals is that it helps both children and adults express their emotions better, and it elicits a feeling of unconditional love and support.
Furthermore, stuffed animals are great for evoking nostalgia or happy memories from your childhood, which also helps in increasing self-esteem. Nostalgia helps you to remember the strong bond with your family, the giggles with your siblings, and pleasant sleepovers with your friends, which can be essential in times when you’re feeling down.
10. They make for comfortable snuggle buddies
They are soft, plush, and huggable, and are perfect snuggle buddies before going to bed. Furthermore, they make you feel less lonely when you’re living on your own, they provide you with unconditional emotional support without judgment, and make you forget about being an adult and all the stresses that come with it.
Snuggling with stuffed animals in bed is the perfect way to calm you down. They make you feel comfortable and relax to lull you into a good night’s sleep.
Best Stuffed Animals to Help You Sleep Better
Every stuffed animal is different and can evoke different sensations and emotions in different people. That’s why you need to consider how a stuffed animal makes you feel before purchasing one to help you have a better sleep. Here are some helpful and popular toys that help with relaxation and reducing anxiety.
- Weighted stuffed animal. Hugging a weighted stuffed animal elicits the same sensation as getting an actual hug, which helps release feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. It also helps slow down the heart rate that makes you feel calm and ready to sleep.
- Aromatherapy stuffed animals. Scented stuffed animals are known for inducing calmness and relaxation. Choose lavender-scented stuffed animals that emit the soothing smell of the essential oil to put you into a good night’s sleep. It also helps reduce stress, anxiety, and emotional pain.
- A classic teddy bear. The teddy bear is universally considered as a representation of love, childhood happiness, and comfort. It can help remind you of the pleasant childhood memories you’ve had with your old teddy bears, which can instantly make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Should You Be Sleeping With a Stuffed Animal?
According to experts, as long as your habit of sleeping with a stuffed animal does not pose any negative impact on your life and there’s no unhealthy obsession over it, there’s really no need to give up your favorite teddy bear cuddle buddy even well into your adult life. It’s perfectly normal to reach for some comfort and security when you’re about to sleep in this stressful life.
Remember, it’s not about the actual object, but the memories and emotions that you associate with it. Make sure to pick a stuffed animal that makes you feel good, happy, and safe. We hope that we have provided you with valuable information regarding the benefits of sleeping with a stuffed animal.