Is It Bad to Sleep In a Bra?
When you first started wearing a bra, you probably felt like a cool, confident grown a** woman, and simultaneously freaked TF out about these newfound boobs and how to feel about them. You turned to your mom, best friends, and even Dr. Google to find out if those aches radiating through your breasts during your period were normal, if it was dangerous to walk around bra-free 24/7, and why your nips were so dang itchy.
Even decades later, though, you still might not have all the answers or know what's best for your breasts. After all, those middle school rumors about people whose breasts sagged from going braless under their pajamas can haunt you for a lifetime. Still, the thought of strapping on a bra or slipping into a sports bra before you go to bed sound equally awful. So, what's the answer?
Is It Bad to Sleep In a Bra?
The short answer: Sleeping in a bra is completely safe, says Sherry A. Ross, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., co-host of Ellen Degeneres’ web series "Lady Parts" and author of She-ology. “As long as you are wearing a comfortable and properly fitting bra while you sleep, there are no negative or positive short- or long-term health effects."
Unlike what your friend told you in seventh grade, sleeping without a bra on won’t lead to saggy boobs. It's actually going braless while awake that can do more harm over time. When you’re sitting upright throughout the day, gravity will put a downward force on your breasts, and without a bra, the delicate and sensitive breast tissue is unsupported, which can then cause breasts to sag, explains Dr. Ross. “With that said, it’s not necessary to wear a bra while you sleep since the gravitational forces are less of a problem."
When to Consider Wearing a Bra to Bed
What’s more, some people may actually benefit from wearing a bra while sleeping. Right before your period, estrogen and progesterone levels increase, which can lead to pain or soreness in the breast tissue. So, wearing a supportive bra to bed could help alleviate some of that discomfort, says Dr. Ross. Estrogen levels also fluctuate during the transition to menopause, so wearing a bra while you sleep could mitigate these uncomfortable feelings.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women can also get some much-needed relief from breast pain by sleeping in bras. Reminder: During pregnancy, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels cause the breasts to double or triple in size, which, unsurprisingly, comes with significant breast tenderness and pain, says Dr. Ross. Post-pregnancy, breastfeeding will trigger an increase in the hormone prolactin (which causes breasts to produce milk after birth), further contributing to that breast swelling and sensitivity.
Lastly, you may want to wear a bra while you sleep if you recently underwent breast surgery as it could lessen post-operative pain, she adds. (Related: What I Wish I'd Known About Breast Reduction Surgery Before Going Under the Knife)
Reasons You Might Not Want to Sleep In a Bra
While sleeping in a bra is typically fine, there are a few side effects, particularly if you wear a too-tight bra, explains Dr. Ross. In those cases, the bra can dig into the skin, leading to mild irritation, pain, or a rash. If you experience any of the above, you’ll want to stop wearing the bra while you sleep ASAP, she says. If your symptoms are stubborn and won’t go away on their own, your doctor may recommend you apply an antibiotic cream or topical steroid (think: creams, lotions, and gels), she adds.
All that’s to say that there's absolutely no reason you should sleep in a bra that leaves indentations in your skin or causes a rash — no matter how cute a new sleep-mate might be. If you still want to wear a bra to sleep, you should instead look for a sleep bra that fits you like a glove and doesn’t squeeze too tightly, is made from a super soft material (skip the lace), and is free of sharp seams and wires, explains Dr. Ross. “Don’t select sexy bras to sleep in if they are not giving you maximum comfort,” she says. (These wireless bras are perfect for everyday wear.)
To ensure pain-free slumber if you decided to wear a bra in bed, shop these sleep bras that will keep you supported and comfortable all night long.
ThirdLove 24/7 Seamless Stripe Wireless Bra
As the name implies, this sleep bra is comfortable enough to wear while you conquer your workday and your ZZZs. Its memory foam cups offer enough support without the need for underwire, and to ensure the full-coverage bra doesn’t look like the upper body-equivalent of granny panties, ThirdLove added chic fabric stripes across the center of the garment.
SKIMS Fits Everybody Scoop Neck Bra
Thanks to its high-cut scoop neck, you don’t need to worry about spillage with this sleep bra. Plus, the pull-over style means there’s no metal hooks digging into your back, and the dozen-plus dreamy, pastel colors will help you chill out before you hit the hay.
Lively Seamless Racerback Bralette
This sleep bra boasts a seamless racerback style that prevents any sliding around during the night, as well as soft, stretchy ribbed material to keep you comfortable. Just pull the bra on as you would a sports bra and get ready for pain-free slumber.
Spanx Bra-llelujah! Lightly Lined Bralette
If Oprah is a huge fan of the brand, you know it has to be good. This Spanx sleep bra has lightly-lined cups and, in the large and extra-large sizes, contains an extra layer of fabric for additional support. Without any underwire, metal clasps, or bulky strap adjusters, you won't even realize you're wearing it.
Knix LuxeLift Pullover Bra
With sizes 30A to 42G, this sleep bra is designed for everybody and every body. The snug pull-over bra is completely seam- and wire-free, and most importantly, has removable cups, so you can decide exactly how much support to give your boobs throughout the night. Seriously, it’s so comfy, you won’t want to take it off in the morning. (If you love this bra, you'll want to get your hands on Knix's period-proof undies, too.)