Is It OK to Wear a Bra to Sleep? Experts Weigh In

Health & Wellness

Check out these tips, potential benefits, and pitfalls from health professionals to take into consideration.

Last updated: September 27, 2022
5 min read
Should You Sleep in a Bra? Experts Weigh In

For many folks with breasts, the question of if it’s healthy to sleep in a bra may have percolated. After all, some people claim wearing a bra to bed feels like a hug, while others can’t think of anything more uncomfortable.

Below, health specialists settle the debate of whether sleeping in a bra is supportive or detrimental to breast health.

Is It Bad To Sleep in a Bra?

The short answer: No, it is OK to sleep in a bra. However, it’s not by any means healthier than not wearing one.

“It comes down to personal preference whether you sleep in a bra or not,” said Suzanna Wong, doctor of chiropractic and holistic health expert.

The (Potential) Benefits of Sleeping in a Bra

Some people may benefit from sleeping in a bra. But before experts break down the possible benefits, it’s important to address this: The type of bra you wear to bed does not matter, according to Wong.

For example, if you prefer to sleep in an underwire bra, wear that. “There are a lot of old wives tales that claim that sleeping in an underwired bra is bad for your back, but these tales are not true,” Wong said.

Likewise, if you prefer to sleep in a sports bra, wear that. Many people want to know if it’s bad to sleep in a sports bra, said Constance M. Chen, board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist. “It’s not,” she assured. “It won’t stunt breast growth the way some people believe.”

  1. 1.May Reduce Neck and Back Pain

    Bras were designed to support the chest and take pressure off of the back during daily activities. However, some people with bigger breasts need to relieve pressure from their back while they sleep, too, Wong said.

    Wearing a bra at night can support the breasts and keep them from excessively moving, which may alleviate pressure from your back, she said. If you wake up with a sore lower or upper back, neck pain, or stiff upper-body muscles, she suggested wearing a well-fitting bra to bed.

  2. 2.May Help with Hormonal Aches and Pains

    If your breasts swell or nipples become tender a few days before your period due to the increase of estrogen and progesterone in your system, Wong said you may want to experiment wearing a bra to sleep on those nights.

    Some people are woken up by breast tenderness — especially if they are stomach sleepers, or move around in their sleep, she explained.“If you get tender breasts at a certain time of the month, sleeping in a bra may help alleviate your symptoms, making you more comfortable,” she said.

  3. 3.May Protect Any Piercings

    If one or both of your nipples are pierced, Alexander Zuriarrain, a board-certified plastic surgeon, recommended sleeping with a bra on.

    “The movement that occurs when a person is sleeping can lead to the piercing getting caught and tearing the delicate tissue of the nipple,” he said.

    Keep in mind that people don’t always know whether or not they move in their sleep. “When we enter REM (or deep) sleep, we have no idea what we are doing,” he said.

  4. 4.May Prevent Sagging

    To be very clear: All breasts are good breasts — and that is true for breasts of all shapes, sizes, colors, and weights.

    However, some people prefer the aesthetic of perkier breasts on their own body. If you fall into this camp, you might consider wearing a bra to bed. “Wearing a bra to bed may reduce sagging,” Zuriarrain said. The bra can help keep each breast from hanging, falling, or dropping to one side or another during the hours that you’re asleep, he explained.

    That said, even if you do choose to wear a bra to bed, your breasts will likely sag over time. Breasts naturally sag due to a variety of factors such as hormones, weight, and age, according to Zuriarrain.

    “Pregnancy, menopause, and lactation often cause changes in the breast shape and weight,” he said. “Lactation causes significant sagging of the breast as well as the process of pregnancy due to the engorgement of the breast, which leads to stretching of the skin.”

    Menopause also causes thinning of the skin during the aging process that can also lead to sag, Zuriarrain said.

The Potential Risks of Sleeping in a Bra

Indeed, some people are doing their back and breast health a favor by suiting up in a bra before bed. But others would be better off going without. Here are some potential pitfalls of wearing a bra to bed.

  1. 1.May Interfere With the Ability to Inhale and Exhale

    “Bras were designed to be tight around the chest,” Blessen Abraham, D.C, said. While this tightness allows the bra to effectively support your chest when standing up, when lying down it could become an issue.

    “When you’re lying down [and] sleeping on your back, the band of the bra can shift to the center of your chest,” he said. “Typically, this shift prevents your rib cage from expanding fully, which it needs to do so you can breathe properly.”

    The result? You sleep less soundly. If you wake up tired and think your bra could be to blame, consider going to bed without.

  2. 2.May Not be Comfortable

    There’s a reason many people wear oversized T-shirts or fuzzy pajamas to bed: They’re comfortable. But, sleeping with a bra on may not be — and that’s OK.

    “The main downside of sleeping with a bra on is it's less comfortable than sleeping without a bra on for some people,” Chen said.

    Your move: If you find sleeping with a bra uncomfortable, stop wearing one. It’s as simple as that.

  3. 3.May Make You Sweatier

    Just as too-tight shirts or pants can cause sweat, so can a too-tight bra, according to Chen. And trapped sweat can increase risk of stink, irritation, and even yeast growth.

    If you find yourself waking up with puddles between your breasts, consider sleeping without a bra. Another option? Swap your sleep bra out for one made of cotton, which is generally more breathable, Chen suggests.

The Bottom Line

It is neither bad nor good to wear a bra to bed. To figure out if you should be sleeping in a bra, think about what is going to be most comfortable for your breasts, back, nipples, and skin.

Words by Gabrielle Kassel

Originally published: September 27, 2022

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