For some people, wearing a bra to bed can feel more comfortable than letting your girls hang loose. But is it bad for you?
"Some women have very large or tender breasts, and sleeping with a bra can be supportive and help limit breast movement," says Janet Yeh, MD, Site Chief, Section of Breast Surgical Oncology at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn.
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But scary myths abound about how sleeping in a bra can cut off your circulation, prevent growth or even raise the risk for cancer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people say that wearing a bra to bed will prevent age-related sagging.
Turns out, most of the banter you hear about wearing a bra at night isn't true. Here's what really happens when you go to bed with a bra on, plus how to find comfortable sleep bra options.
The Effects of Sleeping in a Bra
Despite what you may have heard from friends or read online, you're not harming your breasts by wearing a bra to bed, Dr. Yeh says.
Circulation and Breast Growth
As long as it fits well and isn't too tight, it won't affect your circulation or stunt breast growth. (But if it isn't well-fitting or does feel too snug, it might make it harder for you to sleep comfortably.) Lacy or scratchy fabrics might irritate your skin though, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
As for whether sleeping in a bra causes breast cancer? Again, the answer is no. There have been some rumors that wearing an underwire bra to bed could block lymph fluid from draining and in turn fuel the growth of tumors. But there's zero scientific evidence to back this claim, according to BreastCancer.org.
If you're trying to stave off saggy breasts, though, sleeping in a bra won't make a difference. "Breasts naturally develop sagging over time," Dr. Yeh says. "Wearing a bra while sleeping will not likely prevent or slow that process." (But these exercises might help!)
What Are the Best Types of Sleep Bras?
Comfort is key when you're looking for nighttime support.
"A well-fitted, soft and supportive bra would be best for sleeping in," says Dr. Yeh. "Cotton is a more breathable fabric that is preferable."
Steer clear of underwires too — they can poke, dig or generally feel constricting, which you don't want when you're trying to snooze.
The Best Bras to Wear to Bed
- Boody Women's Shaper Bra: Made of bamboo, this soft and stretchy wireless bra is moisture-wicking and breathable, so you'll stay cool while you snooze. ($19.95, Amazon)
- Playtex 18-Hour Ultimate Lift and Support Wire-Free Bra: The cups on this soft cotton bra are designed to provide support without underwire, while the cushioned straps keep your shoulders comfortable. (From $14.99, Amazon)
- Pact Organic Cotton Camisole Tank Top with Built-In Shelf Bra: Here's a camisole and bra in one, made of organic cotton that offers the right amount of support without feeling constricting. ($16.053, Amazon)
So, How Bad Is It Really to Sleep With a Bra On?
There aren't any risks associated with sleeping in a bra, Dr. Yeh says. "It's just a matter of personal comfort."
If a bra at bedtime feels good, go for it. Just find one that's soft and supportive so it won't mess with your sleep.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.