It’s a nighttime decision that has divided women for ages – should you sleep in your bra or remove it before bed?
To say that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there on this topic would be putting it mildly. The internet is chock-full of different claims about wearing your bra to bed.
Some say that sleeping in a bra causes cancer. Others say it keeps your breasts from sagging.
Does that mean that I have to choose between breast cancer or sagging boobies? That just doesn’t seem fair!
The confusion surrounding the possible benefits or health risks with wearing a bra to bed can be frustrating, to say the least.
But we’re going to try and help you stay abreast (ahem, pun intended) of this hotly debated topic so that you can keep your girls healthy and happy while you sleep.
Sleep Strapped In
Similarly to Marilyn Monroe, who was known for being a nightly bra-wearer, I like to sleep with my girls well-secured. It just feels more comfortable to sleep with my bra on.
Plus, I’ll take any added protection against sagging that I can get!
Let’s examine some of the reasons that you, too, might want to head to bed with your bra on.
1. Prevent Sagging
I realize that my bra is not a time machine. Wearing my bra to sleep is not going to transform my boobs from slightly droopy to their former 18-year-old perky selves.
But I like to think that it couldn’t hurt, right?
Sadly, there’s not a whole lot of scientific proof to support the idea that wearing a bra to sleep will help keep your lady lumps defying gravity.
Though cosmetic surgeon Douglas McGeorge does say that wearing your bra to sleep could help prevent stretch marks.1
Bigger breasts can drag and want to go sideways when you are lying down. This can pull the skin and contribute to stretch marks. Wearing a bra to sleep in may slow the ageing process down very slightly in this instance.
Stretch marks – sagging…they’re in the same ballpark! If wearing my bra to sleep will help prevent stretch marks, I’m all for it.
And, even though there isn’t a whole lot of scientific evidence to support the idea that wearing your bra to sleep will help keep your boobs perky, there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence.
Linda Becker is a professional bra fitter who has acquired the nickname, the Bra Lady2. This bra-expert owns multiple bra boutiques in New York and says,
Here’s the logic…Either your breasts are being supported for eight hours, or they’re not being supported for eight hours. What do you think is better? It’s just common sense. If your breasts are being held up, they’re going to stay up a lot longer. When you take your bra off at the end of the day, they’re a lot higher than when you put it on in the morning.
Not exactly science, but it sounds pretty reasonable to me. Definitely reasonable enough to keep me sleeping in a bra! Some people go a step further and train themselves sleep exclusively on their back, to prevent their breasts hanging or being smooshed into the mattress in the side or stomach sleeping positions.
2. Wearing Your Bra To Bed Won’t Risk Your Heath
You’ve probably heard the rumors that wearing a bra to sleep increases your risk of getting breast cancer.
As a dedicated bra-sleeper, I can’t tell you the number of times that girlfriends have scolded me for this and sworn that I’m practically asking for breast cancer.
My response? An exaggerated eye roll while shaking my head.
I’m here to debunk this absurd myth once and for all – wearing a bra to sleep does not give you breast cancer.
David Gorski, M.D., Surgical Oncologist Specializing in breast cancer surgery. Had the following to say.3
As a breast cancer surgeon, I not infrequently have to deal with many of the common myths that have sprung up around breast cancer. Some are promoted by quacks; others are just myths that sound plausible but aren’t true.
However, the myth that wearing bras increases the risk of breast cancer is one of those unsinkable rubber ducks (as James Randi would put it) of a myth that just won’t die
Not only is there very little scientific backing for this ridiculous claim, but there’s been numerous studies done that do support just how ridiculous it is.
A study done in 2014 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, wholeheartedly concluded that sleeping in a bra has no connection whatsoever to breast cancer.4
The study examined all aspects of bra-sleeping including cup size, frequency of wear, the presence of an underwire, the age you started wearing a bra, and more.
No matter what the bra-sleeping situation was, researchers were not able to link sleeping a bra to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Well-respected associate professor of surgery and director of the Breast Cancer Surgery Multidisciplinary Fellowship at NYU Langone Medical Center, Dr. Amber Guth says,
There is certainly no evidence that sleeping in bras is either helpful or harmful.
She tells her patients that sleeping in a bra is just a matter of personal comfort. She feels strongly that external things, such as bras, have no impact on breast cancer or other serious health risks. 5
There you have it – sleeping in your bra will not give you breast cancer – straight from the mouth of an acclaimed breast cancer surgeon!
And just to throw in another piece of anecdotal evidence…my Mom slept without a bra her entire life. And she never missed an opportunity to tell me how unsafe my bra-sleeping habit was.
And guess what? She got breast cancer at 63 years old, after a lifetime of never sleeping in her bra.
On the flip side of this coin – there was a study done back in 1995 that claimed sleeping in a bra that’s too tight can affect lymph nodes and potentially increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Even though it ultimately turned out to be largely false, it led to countless rumors about the dangers of sleeping with a bra on. But we’ll discuss that further a bit later on.
Bottom line – breast cancer is, unfortunately, a risk for all women. But sleeping in your bra – assuming that it fits properly – has nothing to do with it.
3. Sleep In The Right Bra For You
We now know that sleeping in your bra on may possibly offer some small inkling of help in the fight against sagging boobies. And we also know that it will not increase your chances of getting breast cancer.
Perhaps this newfound bra knowledge has you thinking about giving bra-sleeping a try?
Go for it! But make sure that you choose the right bra to sleep in.
This means picking one that isn’t too tight, usually without an underwire, and made from comfortable and breathable material.
Sleeping in a bra that’s too tight or stabs your skin with underwires can disrupt your sleep. It can also irritate your breasts and cause nasty rashes.
Camisole tops with built-in bras are a good option. There are also a variety of night-bras on the market.
Free the Boobies! Sleeping Braless
There are two sides to every argument – and sleeping in your bra is no exception.
The evidence claiming that there’s no harm in sleeping with your bra on – and it may even be helpful – is convincing.
But there are some equally convincing arguments for freeing your breasts from the constraints of your bra at night.
Keep in mind, many of these arguments stem from wearing an ill-fitting bra to sleep. They don’t all necessarily hold the same weight if you’re wearing an appropriate and well-fitted bra to bed.
Sleeping In a Bra Can Restrict Circulation
If you sleep in a poorly fitted bra, your circulation may suffer.
This is especially true if your bedtime bra features an underwire. A too-tight underwire bra will constrict your pectoral muscles.
This affects how blood flows through your chest and arms – and not in a good way.
Constantly restricting circulation can really hurt the tissue in your breasts over time. Not to mention leaving you waking up with a numb or painful arm.
To avoid circulation problems, make sure that your bra is not too tight. Or go a step further and sleep naked. It will help you cool down if you sleep hot.
Bra Sleeping Can Irritate Your Skin Irritation
Skin on and around our breasts can be pretty sensitive. After all, it generally gets far less exposure than other skin-covered body parts.
Which is why you might find that when you sleep in your bra, the skin covering your lady humps suffers.
Similar to circulation issues, breast skin irritation is more likely to occur with an ill-fitting bra as opposed to one that’s comfortable or geared for sleeping.
Any time an article of clothing is too tight, you stand a higher risk for rubbing, chafing, and an overall painful experience.
And even if your bra does fit well, many bras come equipped with potentially skin irritating details. Hook closures, adjustable straps, underwires, and even decorative charms.
Any of these little added features can promptly irritate your breasts when sleeping in your bra.
A too-tight bra with an underwire can even cause cysts to form if left on for too long.
And the material of your bra matters, too. Certain fabrics like lace or synthetic materials made with chemicals can do a number on your delicate breast tissue. Opt for bras that are made from at least 80% cotton and free from any extra bells and whistles to avoid irritating your breasts.
Sleeping In a Bra Can Interfere With Your Lymph Nodes
You may not know it, but you have numerous lymph nodes in the area around your breasts.
These lymph nodes help to drain toxins and other waste products, like oestrogen, from your breasts.
When you sleep in a bra that’s too tight, you constrain those lymph nodes. This makes it difficult for them to freely drain the necessary fluid from your breasts. This can cause an unhealthy build-up of toxic fluids and waste.
Professor Kefah Mokbel, lead breast surgeon at the London Breast Institute of the Princess Grace Hospital6, says,
Wearing a constrictive bra to sleep affects the physiology of the breast. It can impair the blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which, at worst, can lead to chronic inflammation, oedema (fluid retention) and discomfort.
And remember that study I mentioned earlier linking sleeping in a too-tight bra to breast cancer? That fits in here.
Back in 1995, a study was done by Sidney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer – two anthropologists. They claimed that sleeping in a bra leads to breast cancer due to lymph node restriction 7
The sheer fact that this was done by anthropologists – and not medical doctors – should be your first clue to take these claims with a grain of salt.
The anthropologists claimed that women who kept their bra on 24/7 had a 113-fold increase for breast cancer. This was in comparison to women who wore a bra less than 12 hours each day.
After they wrote an entire book about this (false) theory, it stirred up a lot of conversation and contributed to the age-old ‘sleeping in your bra causes breast cancer’ myth.
Since then, countless doctors have spoken up about the falsity of these claims and ultimately debunked this myth.
Yes, wearing a bra that is too tight night after night can potentially cause complications with your lymph nodes. But there is no evidence that problems with lymph node drainage will lead to breast cancer.
Sleeping In A Bra MAY Cause Breast Fungus
I am horrified to admit that I have dealt with breast fungus. And it did come from sleeping in my bra – kind of.
Years ago, I was spending several hours a day working out. I basically lived in gym clothes and never took off my sports bra. Even when I slept.
One day, I noticed a weird rash forming on my breasts. It was red, itchy, and oozing blood and pus in some areas. GROSS.
Eventually, I realized that sweating profusely in my sports bra and falling asleep before showering or taking it off was to blame for my nasty fungus. I had created the perfect environment for the breeding of breast fungus.
Even if you’re not sleeping in a sweaty sports bra like I was, sleeping in any bra can potentially cause breast fungus – especially if it doesn’t fit properly.
Keeping your breasts restrained in an overly-tight bra that’s covered by pajamas and heavy bedding all night long can cause you to sleep hot, leading to a sweaty situation.
And fungus loves an overly warm and moist environment.
Professor Kefah Mokbel says,
Sleeping in your bra can raise the temperature of your breast tissue to 37 degrees C (98.6 F) or slightly more and a restrictive bra can heighten this rise even more.8
Ideally, your breasts would remain around 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to the rest of your body’s preferred 98.6 Fahrenheit.
But sleeping in an ill-fitting bra or bra made from synthetic polyester material can raise the temperature to fungus-growing new heights.
To avoid breast fungus, be sure to sleep in a properly fitted bra made from breathable materials. Otherwise you can always sleep naked.
The debate over sleeping with your bra on is one that seemingly has no end.
We’ve looked at some valid points for both sides of this boob-related banter.
What’s the conclusion? It really comes down to personal preference.
Do you feel more comfortable sleeping with your bra on? Go for it!
There are no major health risks associated with sleeping in a properly fitted bra. And you might even notice your girls look a bit perkier after sleeping in your bra!
Or, do you spend each day counting the minutes until you can get home and let your girls be free?
If so, then sleeping bra-free is the way to go!
Your goal should be to keep you and your boobies comfortable so that you can get the best night’s sleep possible – bra or no-bra!
What Team Are You On? Team Bra Sleeper or Team Bra-less? Let me know in the comments below!