If you have a C cup, D cup, or larger, you've probably tossed and turned at night at least once for no other reason than your chest. Maybe menstrual-cycle-related or postpartum tenderness has kept you up — or simply the burden of your boobs being boobs. At some point, you probably asked yourself, "Is it OK to sleep in a bra?" Today, we're putting any old wives' tale you've heard to bed with science.
The answer to this age-old question is: Sleeping in a bra is totally OK, if that’s what makes you the most comfortable. Maybe an older woman in your life has told you that wearing a bra to bed has long-term, damaging effects. But there are no peer-reviewed medical studies indicating that the practice of sleeping with a bra on is harmful.
“No published data says there is any detriment to sleeping in a bra, such as breast cancer effects, bad blood circulation, or stunted breast growth,” Dr. Terri Ann Samuels, a board certified urogynecologist and founder of Essentially You, says to Healthline. She adds that the practice may allow for breast implants to stay lifted longer.
"There is no proof that continued support through the night has any significant effect on breast tissue,” Dr. Heather Richardson, a breast surgeon at Bedford Breast Center, tells Byrdie. “There have been attempts to both prove and disprove that wearing a bra either saves the internal ligaments from fatiguing with its support or that keeping the tissues from ‘working’ to support themselves makes them too weak and soft.”
Samuels adds, "Sleeping in a bra can be more supportive, as long as it’s a soft bra that’s not cutting off any circulation.
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Wearing a bra to bed is ultimately a matter of comfort and hygiene, not cosmetics. Just like death and taxes, breast-sagging is inevitable. Genetics, hormonal changes (like those during menopause), and body shape shifts (such as losing or gaining weight, or becoming pregnant) all play a part in your breasts' gravitational decline.
Dr. Regina Hampton, a board-certified breast surgeon and founder of Breast Care for Washington, D.C., also told Healthline that people with painful lumpy breasts can benefit from sleeping in a bra. "Wearing a soft bra to bed can help limit breast movement while sleeping,” she says. “Just make sure it’s the right size bra and the proper fit to prevent things like a fungal infection under the breasts, which can happen if the bra doesn’t tuck under the breast properly, resulting in skin touching skin,” she adds. If nothing else, let the sleeping in a bra conversation remind you the most underrated part of sleep improvement is your sleepwear.