Got boobs? Some folks swear that wearing a bra 24/7 offers comfort and max support, even when snoozing. Others wouldn’t dream of confining their melons while they catch some Zzz’s.
So, should you strap up when you snooze or let ‘em loose? Here’s what the experts have to say.
Much like wearing tampons versus pads or choosing a birth control, the decision whether to wear a bra at night is yours.
“There isn’t any research to say it’s bad to sleep in a bra, but there also isn’t any research to prove it’s significantly beneficial,” says Dr. Laura Downing of Austin ObGyn Associates.
Basically when it comes to your boobs, your comfort is key.
“There’s no right or wrong — it’s whatever you’re comfortable with,” notes OB-GYN Dr. Danielle Jones, aka YouTube’s Mama Doctor Jones.
Why wear a bra to bed?
According to Jones, some other things you might want to take into account include:
- Breast size or tenderness. If you’re well endowed, you may feel more secure in a soft, supportive bra. People with fibrocystic breasts, breast pain associated with hormonal changes, or tender breasts may also want to wear one.
- Whether you’re nursing. Folks who breastfeed, especially early on, may have a preference for sleeping in nursing bras for optimal comfort.
- Nipple factors. Some peeps may want to wear a soft bra if a loose shirt moving around leads to nipple pain or chafing.
Sorry, your boobs *will* sag over time whether you wear a bra to bed or not. It’s just the way of gravity and mother nature.
According to a study, the most significant breast sagging factors include age, body mass index (BMI), number of pregnancies, and breast tissue weight.
“We don’t have any studies to say sleeping in a bra prevents sagging,” Downing says. “Gravity is the main contributor to breasts sagging over time, so sleeping in a bra just isn’t likely to make a big difference for most women.
“Breast tissue is supported by connective tissue called Cooper’s ligaments,” Downing adds. These tough, collagen-rich ligaments are located under your skin and stretch and weaken over time like other ligaments in your body, making your breasts sag.
Other contributing factors to breast sagging include:
- weight fluctuations
- hormonal changes in pregnancy
- smoking (which reduces elastin in your skin)
Wait, doesn’t everyone and their mother say breastfeeding causes breast sagging?!
“That’s not actually held up in any of the literature,”Jones says.
In a small 2008 study, researchers concluded that while breast ptosis (aka sagging) tends to increase after each pregnancy, breastfeeding doesn’t seem to worsen these effects.
Likewise, in a 2010 study, researchers found that history of breastfeeding, weight gain during pregnancy, and lack of regular upper-body exercise seemed to have no impact on sagging.
Here’s what won’t happen if you sleep with a bra on:
- breast sagging
- breast preservation or perkiness
- stunted breast growth
- breast cancer
The worst that could happen is you wear something too tight or improperly fitted and wake up sore or uncomfy. The best that could happen is you wake up feeling great and supported!
For some peeps — especially those with back pain or posture probs — Jones notes that wearing a bra that fits well may be beneficial for health and well-being in general. The added support can go a long way to help alleviate pain and aid in comfort.
File that under fake news. Wearing an underwire bra (or any kind of bra) day or night does 👏 not 👏 cause 👏 cancer 👏.
Jones speculates the myth likely developed because underwire became popular around the same time docs got better at diagnosing breast cancer (thanks, mammograms 🙏).
“There is definitely no association between wearing a bra, sleeping in a bra, or the wires in a bra and breast cancer,” Jones says. “That’s a widely held misconception, but definitely is not true.”
A sports bra may be your go-to sleep bra of choice. Since underwires can cause discomfort, it’s definitely a solid nighttime pick.
“Most experts feel a sports bra is a good option if you choose to sleep in a bra,” Downing says, “just make sure it’s comfortable and not too tight.”
Wear a soft, wireless bra
It’s best to save your Madonna-inspired cone-bra for another time. When it comes to getting shut-eye, Downing advises finding a soft bra that fits well and doesn’t dig into your skin.
Underwire is a no-go. This can be a little to snug for nighttime and can jab you as you toss and turn.
“The metal in underwire also often contains nickel, which is highly allergenic for many people and can irritate the skin,” adds dermatologist Dr. Papri Sarkar. If you sweat at night, the moisture may react with the metal and make a reaction even more likely.
Let your boobs breathe
“[A bra] that breathes well will also prevent discomfort and possibly yeast growth,” Downing advises.
“Cotton is a solid choice, especially for people who are prone to yeast infections,” Jones notes.
If you tend to get sweaty at night, Sarkar recommends wearing synthetic materials (such as nylon) that wick away moisture.
Find your perfect fit
In a small 2008 study, researchers found that 80 percent of women were wearing the wrong bra size. While that study can’t speak for all — it might be worth reassessing how your bra fits.
If you’re unsure of your Goldilocks fit, measure your cup size or visit a lingerie associate to help you out.
“Making sure your bra fits well and isn’t too tight will prevent skin irritation and disrupted sleep,” Downing notes.
Although some people think tighter bras = more support, Sarkar advises against super tight fits: “The tighter the bra, the more likely you are to get chafing, skin irritation.”
Keep your bras clean
How often should you really wash your bra? According to Sarkar, it depends on how much sweat and moisture accumulate in your bra due to the weather, your activity level, and factors like breast size and type.
But for most people, Sarkar says washing your bra once or twice a week is enough.
If you have heavier or lower hanging breasts, though, she recommends washing it every 1 to 2 days. Any breast-on-skin contact (especially when coupled with sweat 💦 ) can lead to skin irritation, infections, or rashes.
If you’re super physically active or sweat through your bra on the daily, she recommends washing it after each wear to avoid rashes and issues like folliculitis (aka inflammation of the hair follicles).
Give your bras some TLC
If your bra is made of synthetic materials, skip the fabric softener. Downing says this may hinder its breathability.
Her fave tip for washing frequently-used delicates? “Hand wash in the shower with shampoo or a small bottle of detergent. Roll in a towel and squeeze — don’t wring — to dry as much as possible and hang to dry… it’ll be ready for you to wear again the next night!”
If you toss them in the wash, Sarkar recommends putting them in a mesh laundry bag for added protection against stretching and distortion. Bras ain’t cheap!
Breast friends for bedtime: Our top soft bra picks
Looking for the sleep bra of your dreams? Here are a few winners to consider:
Experts agree: It’s neither good nor bad to wear a bra while sleeping. There’s no evidence to suggest wearing a bra while snoozing can hurt your boobs — it also won’t make them any perkier.
Ultimately, it’s between you, your boobs, and your comfort.