To Sleep In A Bra Or Not, That Is The Question. And We're Going To Finally Answer It

Cast your mind back to the days of sleepover parties. After your game of "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board" and whatever movie you weren't supposed to be watching, the rumors went flying. It's a safe bet that one of them was, "If you sleep in your bra, you'll get cancer/your breasts will sag/they won't grow/your blood pressure will be affected." These rumors probably didn't end after you set off on your own into adulthood, and you may still be hearing it from family members and friends. (The fact that half of the TV shows we watch show people having sex in bras all the time or waking up in the morning in them provides some mixed messaging.) 

It's also possible that you've heard that wearing a bra to bed will actually keep your breasts from sagging. Isn't it fun when both sides sound logical? Bra comfort is very individual — you might love them or hate them with a fiery passion. You may rely on them for support and comfort, or you might eschew them completely. That part is completely up to you, but what about the rumor? Is it dangerous to sleep in your bra? Are there any benefits? Put on your comfiest one (or don't — you do you) and let's chat about it. We are actually going to answer this once and for all.

Does wearing a bra to bed hurt you?

Bedford Breast Center surgeon Dr. Heather Richardson took on the rumor, and told Byrdie, "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." That means it's not going to make them droop or keep them perky. Well, that makes us feel better, but what about the scary rumor about cancer?

Health Digest touted a study that was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The study says that there is no risk for cancer from wearing a bra to bed, nor is there one from wearing it for any amount of time. It doesn't matter at what age you started wearing a bra or whether or not it has an underwire component; you're fine! That's a huge relief. Even better? Healthline (via Health Digest) said that your circulation won't be affected either. That said, don't go grabbing a bedtime bra without reading on.

What are the drawbacks to wearing a bra to sleep?

A bra at night won't cause issues in terms of breast stability, cancer, or circulation, but you do have to keep them clean. Phoebe Kunitomi, founder and CEO of lingerie brand Okko told Byrdie, "Wearing a dirty bra can accumulate oil, sweat, and bacteria and result in skin irritation or acne — during the day and at night." Someone, please tell Eleanor's mom on "The Good Place." She never washes those and hides money in them. 

This can be worse if you're not wearing the right fabric. Cotton is breathable, but as athletes know, sweating in cotton can make it soggy as it retains the liquid, and polyester doesn't exactly breathe well. Linen, silk, or even wool (though we've rarely seen a wool bra) can keep you cool if it's warm and humid where you lay your head. Just make sure you're washing these often if you do decide to sleep in them. Hand wash them or use a lingerie bag when you wash to minimize wear and tear, and be sure to air dry them if you can. 

Another issue is that if they don't fit correctly, or the underwire is poking you uncomfortably, bras may actually make it harder to sleep, or will wake you up in the middle of the night. Your best bet is to keep them clean, make sure they're comfortable, and that they fit correctly. 

Does wearing a bra to bed have any benefits?

Now, we know they aren't going to cause any medical issues. We know to keep them clean and well-fitting. We know they won't make your breasts sag or keep them from sagging (that's more about your genetics than anything else, according to Health Digest). So are there any benefits?

What if you're someone who doesn't like the feel of skin on skin while you're trying to sleep? Perhaps you have breast swelling or tenderness from your menstrual cycle or pregnancy? Maybe you just don't like how they stack when you sleep on your side (which can cause bacteria buildup or acne), or you sweat too much, distracting you from a good night's sleep. 

If you have breast pain for any reason, or if you're breastfeeding, the site says wearing a bra to bed can actually help reduce discomfort. In the end, it depends on your comfort level. One thing that might help with the ill-fitting side of things (aside from getting yourself fitted correctly) is a bra without an underwire, even if it's just for sleep. The style has become really popular, particularly during the pandemic, and it's much easier to find these days. The bottom line is that wearing a bra to bed won't hurt you if it's clean and comfortable, and not wearing one isn't going to cause any issues either. It's all about your personal preference. Sweet dreams!