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We asked a clinical psychologist if there’s anything wrong with snuggling your toy into adulthood.

| By Antonia Day | Wellness

Is Sleeping with a Stuffed Toy a Red Flag?

We asked a clinical psychologist if there’s anything wrong with snuggling your toy into adulthood.

Ah, home sweet home, bed sweet bed. There’s really no place I’d rather be. Just me, my linen sheets, and Fred.

“Who’s Fred?” you may be asking. He’s not my partner, he’s not a friend… Fred is, in fact, the teddy bear I’ve had since I was a little girl – and you bet your bottom dollar I still sleep with him in my arms each night.

Fred keeps me feeling safe, secure, and comfortable. As soon as I’m horizontal, if I have him in my arms I know it’s time to sleep.

I always thought it was fairly normal to still sleep with a stuffed animal as an adult. But recently, the topic came up at Bed Threads HQ and the term “red flag” kept being thrown around. “If he sleeps with a teddy bear, it’s a dealbreaker,” one colleague said.

“Is this seriously a thing?” another asked. “Do adults do this?” Ouch.

While I wouldn’t give up Fred for anything (least of all some friendly office side-eye), I was curious… Is there anything wrong with sleeping with a stuffed toy into adulthood? Do other people do this? Can it impact your sleep health or your relationships?

I investigated.

“Stuffed toys or blankets from our childhood often represent “transitional objects”. Transitional objects provide children with comfort, security, and familiarity as they transition from being merged with their caregivers to the path of independence.”

And what about side effects? Having Fred seems to be all upside, but was I at risk of… something?

“Humans are intrinsically wired to seek comfort, and comfort objects such as stuffed animals or blankets can help us feel calm, secure, and loved,” Dr. Steele said.

So far so good.

”However, when an adult needs a comfort object such as a stuffed toy or blanket to fall asleep, and the absence of the object causes distress, impacts your ability to fall asleep or your capacity to seek comfort from others, then this could be a sign that your attachment to the object is having a negative impact on your mental wellbeing.”

Okay phew.

If I ever spend a night away from home, I don’t usually bring Fred with me – he’s quite big and I’d rather avoid any opportunity for judgment. Also, I learned my lesson from the time I thought it would be a good idea for him to come with me to a three-day camping festival. Thankfully, we left with no casualties but he did need two hot cycles in the washing machine to remove the filth that had accumulated over the past few days.

From where I'd rather be.

As for the red flag question? It sounds like I’m in the clear.

“If sleeping with comfort objects such as stuffed toys or blankets is not impacting a person’s ability to have healthy relationships, their work, or their overall mental wellbeing, then I do not believe it’s a ‘red flag’ or something to be concerned about. However, if comfort objects are interfering with you or your partner’s relationship, your sleep, or your capacity to engage in work or life experiences (such as travel) then this could be a warning sign of a deeper problem that needs to be addressed.”

My partner’s sweet with Fred, and Fred has yet to impact a work or life experience for me – so I think it’s fairly safe for me to continue to sleep with him by my side for the foreseeable future. And by that I mean until the day I die. Open casket. Fred nestled in beside me. And a big beige flag sticking out of my pocket.

For more from Dr Kayla Steele, follow her @kaylarsteele

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