The Power of Plush: Benefits of sleeping with a stuffed animal

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best
cures in the doctor’s book.”


I have been sleeping with him off and on for 44 years. He has traveled with me to every state I have lived in, offered solace when I was scared and wore my tear stains on his shirt when I was going through the most challenging times of my life—always there by my side. I’d like to introduce you to Dan…Doggy Dan to be exact—my stuffed dog I received on my first birthday.

For as long as I can remember, sleep has been a cherished part of my life. From countless bedtime stories to the soothing melodies of lullabies, I’ve always found solace in the realm of dreams. As I reflect upon my four-decade-long journey, there is one constant companion who has been by my side every step of the way.  My beloved stuffed dog.

Surprisingly, my attachment to Doggy Dan is not unique. According to recent statistics, a staggering 70% of adults in the United States admit to still owning a cherished stuffed animal from their childhood and 40% admit to still occasionally sleeping with one. These comforting companions serve as more than just nostalgic relics; they play a vital role in our emotional well-being and the pursuit of a restful night’s sleep.

While it may raise a few eyebrows to find grown-ups seeking solace in cuddly creatures or their trusted blankies, scientific research has come to their defense. Studies have shown that embracing a plush toy triggers the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone.” This gentle touch of familiarity brings forth a sense of security, effectively reducing stress and anxiety levels, leading the way to a more peaceful slumber.

From the bustling streets of New York City to the traveling with me to Panama on my first international solo trip, Doggy Dan has witnessed the tapestry of my existence unfold. From the button nose my grandma lovingly replaced to the thread scar marking his music box surgery, he radiates a timeless charm, reminding me of life’s simpler joys that often go unnoticed in our fast-paced world.

In a fast-paced world that often leaves us feeling disconnected, if you have a plush friend, the profound connection you share can offer respite from the hard realities of the bustle of life, the anxiety brought about by the unknown and the chaos that is, well life.

As anxiety affects a significant portion of adults, the rise in comfort-centric objects like weighted blankets and stuffed animals comes as no surprise. Scientific research supports their effectiveness, showing that these objects can decrease anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. Whether it’s a weighted blanket or a beloved stuffed animal, these items offer solace and help create a tranquil bedtime environment for a more restful sleep. And we all know that sleep is one of the best forms of self-care!

In a society that often emphasizes the pursuit of material possessions and the trappings of adulthood, I encourage you to embrace the small joys that bring you comfort and peace. Statistics back up the prevalence of this endearing attachment among adults, it becomes clear that these cuddly creatures hold more than sentimental value—they hold the power to soothe and rejuvenate. And if a stuffed animal isn’t the thing for you, try a weighted blanket…they are quite amazing!

So, as I drift off to sleep, Doggy Dan nestled in my arms, I am reminded that amidst the uncertainties of life, the love and warmth of a childhood friend can guide me back to the tranquility we often seek. To the next person who shares my bed, I wish them luck, for they wil have quite the competition awaiting them!



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