How does sleeping with a bra on affect your breasts?
Can sleeping with a bra on affect breast size, shape, or perkiness? Read on to find out more.
Most of us learned that sleeping with a bra on is a no-no as early as puberty. Some say it causes breasts to sag, while some favours sleeping with a bra on because they believe it keeps their breasts shapely and perky. Is it true that sleep without bra is medically good? Whatever it is, for starters, it is important to accept that breast sagging will happen to all women.
The burning question: bra on or off before bed?
But first, here are some of the common myths associated with sleeping with a bra on. If you haven’t, then here’s a little history lesson that your mum would have probably warned you against.
With all kinds of myths peppered over the internet, it seems that sleep without bra is medically good. While some myths stay as myths, there are findings that show that going bra-less to bed could be a better option!
There’s a link between “wearing a bra at night and an increased risk of breast cancer.” More specifically, bras with underwires — although people believe that normal bras can cause breast cancer as well.
It first appeared in a 1995 book which claimed that women who “wore bras for 12 hours or more a day” risk a higher chance of “developing breast cancer than women who didn’t”. All because these underwire bras “restrict the lymph system, which results in a build-up of toxins in the breasts”, argued by Dr. Susan Love.
But apparently, there is no scientific reason to back this up. People believe in myths like this because it helps them to “feel in control over areas that are uncertain” in their lives. By convincing themselves that bras could cause cancer, they would be deterred in doing so and in which, gives them something to blame.
Celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe to broadcaster Mariella Frostrup truly believed in this myth.
But more than just preventing sagging breasts, many women believe that a bra will hold up their breasts and give them the shape they desire, perky and what not. While that is true that it can give you the shape and look you want (perhaps temporarily), it will not prevent sagging.
Unfortunately, age and gravity is something we all can’t escape.
On the flipside, there are other myths that suggest the opposite where sleeping with your bra on could encourage sagging by weakening the breast’s supporting tissue.
Similarly, the fault here again lies with the underwire bras, especially, that may be too tight for our skin. It could constrict muscles and affect the circulation of nerves in our arms. And not just wired bras, even sports bras could hurt breast tissue because of the constantly restricted circulation.
The key here is to opt for softer and better-fitting bras if you are to wear them to sleep. If you have felt a sense of restlessness before while sleeping, the slight constriction could be a factor due to irritation that you probably did not even notice.
That said, some myths are not entirely false, like your breasts drooping as you get older.
Over time, gravity’s downward pull causes breasts to sag, more so when they are larger in size.
Breast sagging is as inevitable; our skin loses elasticity over time with future lines and wrinkles appearing as we age.
But if we look at the many other factors in our lives, how can we actually pinpoint the root cause or factors of wearing a bra to bed? Is it worth to be so conscious about it?
According to Dr. Seth Rankin, founder of private GP chain London Doctors Clinic, various factors contribute to breast sagging. “Pregnancy and breastfeeding, genetics, smoking, dramatic weight-loss or gain”, to even “high-intensity activity” can increase the likelihood of women having sagging breasts.
Even being overweight and a poor sedentary lifestyle could influence sagging breasts.
“With so many other factors having far more significant effects”, Dr. Rankin says that it makes it “very hard to measure the effect of wearing a bra to bed”.
Besides, according to Holly Pederson, M.D., director of medical breast services at the Cleveland Clinic, there’s just no evidence that any type of bra, or a tight-fitting bra, is harmful in any way.
But even so, Dr. Rankin says that “sleeping in your bra could actually be bad for your health”, apart from the “painful straps and wires”.
Like what myths say, he too suggests that these garments could pose problems to our health.
The habit of sleeping with a bra on can compress breast tissue and it can also constrict blood flow to our vessels and muscles. This can also impede the lymph nodes around our breast and armpit, which are responsible for flushing out toxins from our bodies.
Besides, if we want to maintain your breasts’ perkiness, sleeping with a bra on is unnecessary. Most sleeping positions compress breast tissue and mass backwards naturally.
When we lie down to sleep on your back or on your tummy, however, the opposite happens. Just remember that if you decide to keep your bra on at bedtime, make sure it is the kind with soft cups or bralettes. Tight sports bras are a no-nos.
There are health factors to consider if you choose to keep your bra on before bed.
If your bra has an underwire, it could also cause discomfort and keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Restlessness can cause stress and not being able to sleep can make you moody and unproductive all day. What’s more, if the wire or hooks of your bra straps are too constricting, they could cause darkening of certain areas, or what is known as hyperpigmentation.
We still sweat in our sleep so moisture can collect when you keep your bra on. Over time, it increases the risk of breast fungus, or an itchy fungal rash, particularly under the breast folds.
So while there is no fixed rule against sleeping with a bra on, it looks like the odds are in favour of freeing your breasts from all restrictions while you sleep! Do what works for you. If it gives you a peace of mind to not wear one, then do it. If you really have to, opt for something that will help you relax during sleep such as a soft, cotton bra with a loose fit. It will leave fewer lines too!
Ultimately, what’s important is that you know the health risks and you know what measures to take against them if you decide to make this a nightly habit. And just keep in mind that bras do not cause breast cancer.