Marilyn Monroe famously wore a bra to sleep every night with the claim that it helped her to maintain her figure.
Many beliefs about wearing a bra have passed around between women for generations, and some women insist on wearing a bra to sleep while others maintain that going braless is the healthier option.
Thankfully, there has been some scientific research done to bust some of these myths while others simply have no concrete evidence to support them.
Here are some of the top myths and facts about wearing a bra to sleep.
It’s a common myth that wearing underwire bras to sleep will cause breast cancer due to the metal wire that rubs against your skin and restricts lymphatic flow.
However, there has been no conclusive scientific study to prove this. A study in 2014 done on over 1,500 women showed that there was no link between wearing bras and breast cancer risk.
This myth may have come from the fact that overweight women have larger breasts so they are more likely to wear a bra. Obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer.
A 2000 study showed that pressure from tight-fitting undergarments such as bras can increase your core body temperature and decrease your melatonin levels. This affects your sleep quality as melatonin manages your sleep-wake cycle.
Wearing a tight bra can also cause irritation and restlessness which can affect your sleep.
However, if you’re wearing a comfortable bra that doesn’t irritate you or have parts that dig into your skin, then your sleep quality may not be compromised.
This myth stems from the idea that your breast tissue can lose their strength if you wear bras for long periods of time. The idea comes from Professor Jean-Denis Rouillen, a sports medicine specialist, did a 15-year study to understand whether bras can cause sagging breasts and made the conclusion that wearing bras encourages laziness of the pectoral muscle.
However, there has been no published study and no peer review done on Professor Rouillen’s findings, and scientists have said the sample size is too small so the research is inconclusive.
In fact, many factors such as genetics, ageing, weight changes, hormonal phases and pregnancy can cause sagging breasts. There is simply no scientific evidence that wearing a bra while sleeping can cause sagging breasts.
Can wearing a bra to sleep prevent your breasts from sagging and keep them perky?
Unfortunately, doctors have said this is not true. When you lie down to sleep on your back, gravity naturally pushes your breasts back into your chest. A bra is meant to support your breasts from below so it has no effect when you are lying on your back.
You should definitely still wear a bra in the daytime when you are standing up or sitting as bras still play a role in supporting your breasts from below to maintain breast shape and lift. However, wearing a bra simply has little effect when you are lying down while sleeping.
If you are pregnant and experiencing pain in your breasts, wearing a maternity bra might help to provide more support and ease discomfort while you sleep.
A bra can also help to hold your nursing pads in place if you have leaky breasts while breastfeeding.
Make sure to choose a maternity bra that is comfortable and not too tight as that can lead to greater discomfort or plugged milk ducts.
Again, there is no scientific proof that wearing a bra to sleep will prevent your breasts from growing. Some people think that bras can restrict your blood flow and hence the growth of your breast tissue, but you shouldn’t be wearing bras that are too tight anyway.
A properly fitted bra will not be uncomfortable or restrict your blood flow, and provide support to your breasts from below. Wearing a bra while lying down will not compress your breasts.
Should you wear a bra to sleep? The answer is to do whatever feels comfortable to you.
If you have smaller breasts, you might prefer to go braless so you don’t have to deal with the discomfort of wearing a bra to sleep. However, girls with bigger breasts may appreciate the additional support that can ease some of the pain and discomfort of having bigger breasts.
Since wearing a bra to sleep has no impact on your risk of breast cancer, breast growth or chances of getting saggy breasts, you can decide on the option which is most comfortable for you.
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Consultant General Surgeon (Breast & Oncoplastic Surgery)
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