Every so often research pops up to reveal that between 10 - 30% of adults go to sleep at night with their teddy bears. Why is that? What's the appeal of a stuffed toy, especially when it's old, tattered and has perhaps been around for decades and is now rather mucky and worn?
And let's not forget the teenagers. Approximately a third of young people have been found to take their teddy bear with them when they leave home to go and study at university. It's understandable that the familiar touch, smell and feel of their old friend provides welcome relief when they return to their room, perhaps feeling stressed, homesick, alone or lonely, in need of private solace and comfort. After all, their teddy has probably been with them their whole life; he knows everything about them, has shared their secrets, confidences and fears.
Let's look at why so many adults still choose to sleep with their teddy bears:
- As we get older continuity can be an important consideration. For many people holding on to their teddy brings with it constancy, familiarity, touching base with their roots. Picking up their teddy bear for a cuddle is often a comforting part of their bedtime ritual; it helps them prepare for a good night's sleep. It can provide reassurance that all is well with the world.
- Teddy can be a link to a carefree past when there were less stresses, responsibilities and demands on their time and energy. Having their old, frayed, comfortable bear in their lives can remind a person of a cosy childhood, a time of safety, security and well-being. Even those people who had difficult childhoods may regard their connection with their teddy bear as being the one loyal, reliable friend and ally. Keeping that closeness is often important.
- For many people their relationship with their teddy bear is regarded as a private matter. They've stopped sucking their thumb, put away the dolls. Many of us find that our bedroom is the place where we safely close the door, block out the cares of the day and are alone with our thoughts. It can be a source of comfort to share that time with our teddy bear. And if other people happen to see our old, childhood bear they may well smile, shrug their shoulders and view it as a cute and sentimental personal thing.
- Many people confide in their teddy bear. He knows everything about them, has witnessed the highs and lows of life, perhaps seen different partners come and go. His role is to comfort any tears, share the joy of successes, guard the secrets. Having their faithful teddy with them at night provides companionship at the end of each day.
- There's no judgement, criticism or negativity from our teddy bear. He accepts us as we are. This valuable attribute provides the bear with important, supportive characteristics which allow us to work privately on problem areas and issues, sort out personal decisions, work through dilemmas and crises as we mentally role play towards a solution.
- There's no potential for embarrassment when sleeping with our teddy bear. He doesn't mind if we snore, drool, hog the bed, whatever. It's a relaxed, accepting relationship.
- And, let's face it, sleeping with a teddy bear is far better than downing half a bottle of booze or a handful of sleeping tablets!
For many people sleep is the first area to suffer when they are stressed, unhappy, unwell. Having a positive support system in the form of a childhood bear can provide an important confidante, ally, source of comfort especially at difficult times. And they are often very cute too, gaining over time, names, personalities, likes and dislikes.