Is It OK to Sleep with a Bra On?

Whatever your reason for wearing a bra to bed – sometimes or all the time – is it wise, or worrisome?

It's late, you're wiped, and taking your bra off is one extra step between you and snooze land. So you do the unthinkable: sleep with your bra on. Maybe you've heard celebrities talk about wearing a bra 24/7 to keep the girls perky, as told to InStyle, so you decide to do the same. There are bras specifically designed for nighttime wear that claim to prevent breast sagging and drooping by keeping breasts “perfectly immobile."

Late Night Bra Basics

First, let's debunk a common bra myth. There's no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman's risk for breast cancer, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The amount of time women in the research center study wore a bra, with or without underwire, or at what age they started wearing a bra, did not affect breast cancer risk.

While bras aren't necessarily a major health concern, wearing one around the clock may not be without unpleasant consequences. Wearing a bra for prolonged periods of time can increase the chance of contact dermatitis (when something touching the skin causes a rash), sweating that leads to skin maceration (when skin softens and breaks down from prolonged exposure to moisture), and infection, says Dr. Henry C. Vasconez, professor and chief of plastic surgery at the University of Kentucky.

If a bra is too constricting, the girls may not have enough room to breathe. Wearing a bra to bed – especially one with underwire – can disrupt sleep if it is too tight or causes pain and irritation, Vasconez says.

Can Bra-Wearing Stop Sagging?

Breast lifts were one of the top five cosmetic surgeries in 2016, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Unless we regularly strength train and build our pectoral muscles, the only supporting structures to keep our breasts from sagging are skin and Cooper's ligaments, very thin tissue that attaches to the chest wall. One school of thought, according to NHS Choices, is that breasts start to drop when those ligaments overstretch. Yet, the exact reasons for gravity taking over remain unclear.

So, can a bra slow or stop sagging? “Possibly," Vasconez says. But that's probably only the case for people with very large breasts that need the support, he says. Perhaps surprisingly, wearing a bra may do the complete opposite over time. “A tight, compressive bra can decrease the circulation of the breasts, and in a small way decrease the collagen production. It can also flatten the collagen of the skin, potentially flattening the breast and possibly causing sagging," Vasconez says.

But, there is no scientific evidence that shows wearing a bra to bed will influence breast sagging.

The Bottom Line

Bras don't need to be a staple along with pajamas.

“Bras are good for supporting large breasts, recently operated on breasts, and when doing strenuous exercise," Vasconez says.

If you feel more comfortable wearing a bra to bed for the added support, go for it. For something more comfortable and less constricting, The Bra Guide suggests choosing an underwire-free option. If you want a little extra support, choose a camisole with a built-in bra. Whatever you do, stick to what makes you feel the most comfortable and allows you to get the best night's sleep.


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