Is It Actually Bad If You Sleep With A Bra On?

To take your bra off at bedtime or to sleep with it on? This is the question that's plagued people since prototypes of the first bras were manufactured in the 19th century (via Vogue Australia). The rumors that persist on the issue add more confusion to the mix, with myths suggesting that sleeping in a bra can make your breasts perkier and stop them from sagging (via Girls' Life). There are even more serious rumors on the other side claiming that sleeping in a bra can lead to breast cancer, using the logic that the material from the bra traps toxins inside the breast that cause cell abnormalities. These pesky myths have historically resulted in some people being too scared to wear a bra to bed in case they develop breast cancer, and others reluctantly sleeping in bras in the hope of warding off sagging.

It's time to get the experts' advice and separate bra facts from bra fiction. Is sleeping with a bra on really as bad as they say, should we all be doing it, or does the answer lie somewhere in between?

The pros and cons of sleeping in a bra

Health experts confirm that sleeping in a bra itself isn't inherently bad. According to Healthline, there is no evidence to back up claims that sleeping in bras leads to cancer, nor does it maintain breast elasticity. In fact, the publication explains that most breasts will naturally sag over time due to factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, pregnancy, and weight fluctuations. Only exercise that works the pectoral muscles, including push-ups and dumbbell pullovers, can help to slow down the process. Therefore, the decision to wear a bra to bed or not is entirely up to you! 

However, there are still important facts to consider. Bra brand Triumph outlines several benefits of sleeping in a bra, including relief from some forms of upper back pain and improved sleep. The latter is particularly true for those with larger breasts who may feel more relaxed when their breasts are supported. On the flip side, the brand also highlights that sleeping in a bra can lead to skin irritation from various parts of the bra rubbing against the skin. Bras that are too tight can also lead to circulation issues during the night. Byrdie notes, though, that wearing a dirty bra to bed can increase the risk of skin acne due to bacteria, oil, and sweat. However, none of these potential advantages and disadvantages is guaranteed, which is why the decision to sleep in a bra or not should always come down to preference.

What type of bra is best to sleep in?

If you do decide to wear a bra to bed, always make sure to choose the right bra to mitigate any potential side effects. Speaking to Cosmopolitan U.K., founder of the London Doctors Clinic Dr. Seth Rankin pointed out that it's important not to wear a bra that's too tight to bed, as this can lead to permanent indents in the skin and restrict blood supply to the breasts. You can also purchase bras that are specifically for sleeping, and Glamour highlights that these typically feature a minimal design and no wires. They often come in breathable materials, like cotton, and are particularly helpful for those with larger breasts who want lightweight coverage in bed. 

According to Shape, some people would benefit from sleeping in a bra more than others. Sleeping in a bra can bring relief from breast pain experienced by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or those with heightened estrogen and progesterone levels, including those who are about to get their period. Similarly, those who have recently undergone breast surgery may find that sleeping in a bra reduces post-operative pain. As long as a bra is comfortable and not too tight, there's no evidence to prove that the practice is harmful. Like many things, it simply comes down to preference.