Growing up, did you have a favorite bedtime companion?
A toy or teddy bear you just couldn’t go to bed without? Maybe it was even a pet to help get you through the night without worrying about the boogeyman or monsters hiding under your bed. Research has shown these items can help reduce stress and anxiety in children and adults.
We surveyed over 2,000 Americans about their former and current nighttime companion habits – from the items they slept with as a child to the ones they make sure are tucked into bed with them today. We even asked about the impact of these sentimental tokens on their relationships and the items most considered to be deal breakers. How many people still sleep with stuffed animals, even as adults? Continue reading to see what we discovered.
Watching children sleep is the kind of thing dreams are made of. With no thoughts of work the next morning or paying off bills, the rest you get as a child may just be the best sleep of your life.
We asked survey respondents to think back to their time as children and the sleep companions they took with them to bed at night. Almost 38 percent said it was a stuffed animal. From a stuffed penguin you might have gotten at the zoo to an iconic character from a theme park, stuffed animals kept over one-third of us company as we slept through the night.
Over 29 percent said they slept with teddy bears, and 28 percent told us it was a special blanket that kept them warm. Nearly 21 percent, on the other hand, had a real-life sleeping companion in the form of a pet. From dogs, cats, and beyond, pets helped protect more than a fifth of us from the creatures under our beds and in our closets.
The Journey of Nighttime Toys
Childhood sleeping habits don’t always stay with us as we get older, but they may change into different nighttime routines.
We found that most people gave up items like sentimental blankets and stuffed animals for the real-life companionship of a pet. Of those who slept with a teddy bear or other stuffed creature when they were young, between 26 and 27 percent said they now share their bed with a pet. Over half (56 percent) who slept with their pet at night while they were younger carried that tradition into adulthood.
Of those who preferred special blankets or teddy bears, 7 percent still made room for them at night, and 4 percent of participants who slept with dolls while as children still kept them close at night into adulthood.
For people who still chose to sleep with certain items from their childhood, more than half said they did it because they found it comforting, while 27 percent said it was just a habit.
The Evolution of Sleeping Routines
While our childhood sleeping habits were adorned with dolls and teddy bears, snoring and hogging the covers are what we’ve become known for as adults.
Of respondents who slept with a stuffed animal or pet as a child, 72 percent said they toss and turn as adults. Interestingly enough, only 61 percent of those who slept without a nighttime companion as children now toss and turn while sleeping.
Snoring can also keep our partners or us up at night. Those who slept with stuffed animals were the least likely to snore now (only 38 percent). However, those who did not have a childhood nighttime companion are the biggest snorers today. Nearly half of them snore at night.
The biggest cover hogs now were those who slept with dolls as children, and those most likely to talk in their sleep used to sleep with stuffed animals and teddy bears.
Don’t Put it to Bed
The nostalgia you get from a sentimental childhood item may be comforting to you, but it could be off-putting to your partner. We asked survey participants to imagine sharing a bed with their significant other and their significant other’s childhood sleeping companion to determine what – if anything – would be a deal breaker.
Over 17 percent of single survey respondents said they would have to break up with someone who tried to bring a doll to bed with them. Fortunately, less than 1 percent had to do this in the past.
Sleeping with a teddy bear or other stuffed animal was also a turnoff for roughly 10 percent of single survey participants. Fewer people (less than 6 percent) said a significant other who slept with a pet would have to go, and over 1 percent said they have broken up with someone who let their furry companion sleep in bed with them.
Love Them, Not Their Dolls
Sharing our bed with a significant other can take some getting used to. As much as we may love our partner, we may not always love their habits.
Survey respondents told us their partners’ most common bedtime habit was sleeping with a pet (16 percent), while 5 percent still slept with a stuffed animal. Only 2 percent slept with a special blanket or teddy bear.
Few admitted being bothered by pets, stuffed animals, or teddy bears, but 29 percent are uncomfortable with their partner sleeping with a special blanket, and 30 percent didn’t like when their partner slept with a doll. In fact, 30 percent have given a partner an ultimatum when it comes to sleeping with dolls. For some people, regardless of the reasoning behind the habit, certain sleeping quirks just have to go.
Growing up With Sentimental Items
As children, we found that girls were more likely to sleep with teddy bears and stuffed animals, while boys were more likely to have a special blanket at night. Girls were also more likely to have a pet as their bedtime companion – 23 percent compared to 19 percent – and to sleep with dolls.
As adults, we found more women kept their sentimental objects close by as they slept compared to men. More women admitted to sleeping with their pets, with almost 28 percent saying they let their furry buddies climb into bed with them (compared to just over 20 percent of men). Women were also three times more likely than men to sleep with a stuffed animal and nearly four times as likely to sleep with a teddy bear in their adulthood.
Sleeping Preferences, by Age
Except for pets, we found younger participants were more likely than older respondents to sleep with a special nighttime item.
Sixteen percent of millennials sleep with a sentimental nighttime item, compared to just 8 percent of Gen Xers and only 2 percent of baby boomers. For millennials and Gen Xers, their most common nighttime item is a stuffed animal, while an equal portion of baby boomers sleep with a stuffed animal or special pillow.
Further, 14 percent of millennials admitted their significant other sleeps with a favorite nighttime companion (most commonly a stuffed animal).
Regardless of age, we found that sleeping with dolls was the biggest deal breaker when it came to their significant other’s sleeping habits.
Workin-Class Stuffed Animal Lovers
Fortunately or unfortunately, children grow up. They may go from treating a room filled with stuffed animals to treating real-life patients. We found almost 87 percent of survey respondents in the medical and health care industry slept with a bedtime companion when they were younger. From checking on the heartbeat of a stuffed whale to spoon-feeding medicine to a sick doll, most medical professionals had a passion for nighttime companions before they had a passion for health care.
Broadcasting, journalism, and publishing professionals had a similar affection for nighttime companions, with over 86 percent acknowledging their bedtime companions. Those in this media-related field were also the most likely to keep their nighttime companion close at bedtime as adults, with 25 percent admitting they still slept with these companions.
Professionals in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry also had a high level of retention when it came to sleeping with nighttime companions.
Regional Bedtime Buddies
Our study found people in the Midwest region love sleeping with their sentimental items or toys. From pets and teddy bears to blankets and dolls, 78 percent of respondents in the Midwest slept with these items as children, and 15 percent from this region still make room for them in their bed.
Those in the Northeast had a similar affection for these nighttime friends, with 77 percent admitting they had their own personal companion as children, and 14 percent telling us they still keep them around as adults.
People from the South had the lowest overall sense of attachment to these items, with 73 percent telling us they remember having a bedtime companion as children, and only 11 percent still using one today.
Better Sleep, Without the Toys
If you’re longing for the peaceful sleep you remember as a child, there may be a way to get it without digging up your old teddy bear or making room in your bed for special pillows and blankets.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 93 percent of Americans believe the secret to a good night’s rest is a good mattress. There are other tips and tricks to help you “sleep like a baby” again, including exercise, a comfortable room temperature, and avoiding midday naps – but your mattress might be at the heart of the matter.
We evaluate and review hundreds of mattresses so you can focus on getting better sleep at night to stay energized and rejuvenated throughout the day. Visit us to find the best mattress for you (and possibly your childhood companion).
We surveyed 2,016 Americans about their nighttime companion habits.
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