Whether or not to sleep in a bra is a personal choice. Some who do it claim it's better for your overall breast health, and many who don't say that your bosom needs freedom at night, not to be constrained. Unsure of the right answer to whether or not it's bad to sleep with a bra on, we asked OBGYNs for their thoughts. Ahead, learn about the pros and cons of keeping your chest wrapped up at night.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Heather Richardson is a Bedford Breast Center breast surgeon.
Dr. Lucky Sekhon is a fertility specialist and board-certified OBGYN.
Phoebe Kunitomi is the founder and CEO of okko.
Is It Beneficial to Sleep in a Bra?
That depends! Do you find bras comfortable? If so, yes, it’s beneficial to sleep in them. In fact, according to fertility specialist and board-certified OBGYN Dr. Lucky Sekhon, sleeping in a bra can reduce discomfort related to breast swelling—whether due to hormonal changes, engorgement during breastfeeding, or when trying to wean off of breastfeeding.
As wonderful as comfort is, we know you might also be wondering if wearing a bra to bed can help prevent breasts from losing elasticity and, ultimately, dropping a bit from their current position.
“While some women may be more comfortable wearing a bra to bed, there is no proof that continued support through the night has any significant effect on breast tissue,” says Bedford Breast Center breast surgeon Dr. Heather Richardson. “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.” But, at the end of the day, she says it seems that good old fashioned genetics, along with patterns of breastfeeding, has far more influence on how breast shape and appearance are maintained over time—not whether or not you wear a bra to bed.
Side Effects of Sleeping in a Bra
Just like there are no major benefits of sleeping in a bra, there are also no major negative side effects. “Contrary to the common rumors, sleeping in a bra does not impair blood circulation, cause breast cancer, stunt breast growth, etc.” Sekhon says.
While wearing a bra to bed can’t lead to serious health problems, okko CEO and founder, Phoebe Kunitomi, points out that doing so can cause potentially skin issues. “Wearing a dirty bra can accumulate oil, sweat, and bacteria and result in skin irritation or acne—during the day and at night,” she says. Because of this, whenever you wear a bra—to bed or otherwise—it’s important to regularly wash it to avoid any such issues.
What About When You’re Not Sleeping?
Despite what many lingerie companies would have you believe, Richardson says that, other than cosmetic issues, there is no reason to think you need to wear a bra in an attempt to avoid more serious breast health concerns.
So, once again, it comes down to personal comfort. This is especially true if you’re bustier. “For those with larger breasts, bra wearing can help with back and neck pain, however some point out that posture and whether or not someone shrugs and stoops their shoulders has more influence over back and neck pain than the size and weight of breast tissue itself,” Richardson says. “Whether we wear a bra or not may make us feel more self-conscious about our breasts and how people see us, which spills into other areas of stance and comfort.”
And, while larger busts are on the brain, it’s worth mentioning that, as Richardson points out, women with very large breasts may see further benefits, as fabric between the bottom of the breast and the top of the upper abdomen prevents moisture from getting trapped, which could otherwise cause yeast and potentially skin fungi to grow. So, by keeping the cozy barrier, you’ll be able to reduce any possible skin irritation, which again brings us full circle to comfort.
“Bras often stretch out over time, so you should buy one that fits at the widest setting and will get more use if you can set the hooks into eyes that will hold the right amount of tightness as the materials get older,” Richardson says. “Most of the work done by a bra is at the band around the chest, not the straps, so a solid but not strangulating fit is what you should aim for.”
The Best Bras For Sleeping
Now that all the myths have been debunked, you may no longer want to wear a bra to bed. However, if you find the compression to be comforting, you might still choose to do so. If that’s the case Sekhon says to look for a soft, flexible bra without underwire. “Sleeping in a tight bra that applies pressure on the skin can cause disruption to sleep and breast/skin irritation,” she explains.
If you find bra shopping to be the bane of your existence, we’re here to help. Ahead you’ll find five of our favorite bras for bedtime (and anytime). Chances are, you’ll be just as obsessed.
Okko Signature Bra
This best-selling hookless bra is ideal for sleeping, though it’s just as cozy for all day wear.
Harper Wilde Bliss Bralette
This wireless bralette is so buttery soft that you’ll never want to take it off. It comes in a series of four neutral shades.
Evelyn & Bobbie Beyond Bra
Sold in a number of shades, this hi-tech bra features just as much support as an underwire bra, without discomfort. A major win in our book (although it's worth mentioning that this bra does contain some underwire).
Yummie Cotton Seamless Unlined Bra
Made with a wide, smoothing back and sides, this wireless bra is not only cozy as can be, it eliminates any bra lines, too.
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Slim Racerback Bra
This fabric is so insanely soft, you’ll want to live in it. Fortunately, it’s moisture-wicking so it’s fab for catching your Zs and hitting PRs.
Alternatives to Bras for Sleeping
If you like the support of sleeping in a bra but they feel too constricting for you overnight, you can instead opt for a middle ground. A basic tank top, form fitting camisole, or undershirt can offer more comfort than a loose fitting t shirt or pajama top. For skin that gets irritated easily, you can try silk pajamas, which are very breathable even if they fit snugly.