Med thumb bras

Some breast-owning individuals like nothing more than climbing into bed unshackled and underwire-free. Others prefer to sleep with their chests bound, not bouncing around.

Is the decision to wear your bra overnight a “you do you” situation? Or is there a right way for breasts to rest?

Support for both camps

One argument for nighttime support is just that: round-the-clock support. Marilyn Monroe famously wore a bra every night to keep her assets perky, but there’s no conclusive evidence that sleeping in a bra will prevent drooping. Experts in breast-centric industries, including plastic surgeons and bra-fitting specialists, go both ways.

A fit specialist at the lingerie boutique Journelle says that women concerned about sagging should just sleep on their backs. 

Those looking for more extreme anti-sagging protection might try night bras, a relatively recent addition to the undergarment market. Night bras are designed specifically to counteract gravitational pull from side-sleeping. Extra straps are said to give one night bra, created by a plastic surgeon, a cage-like effect.

Nocturnal free-boobing may also cause discomfort for women who have large breasts, or who’ve just had enhancement or reduction surgery. If comfort is the concern, the Journelle fit specialist recommends a soft bra or camisole with built-in shelf bra.

One thing is certain: smoking does cause sagging, studies have shown. 

But, is sleeping in a bra harmful? I heard this rumor…

No, bras don’t cause cancer. That’s just a stubborn myth.

The discredited rumor claims underwire bras are are a health hazard because they impede lymphatic circulation. Doctors and scientists beg to differ. In a blog post dated September, 2014, David Gorski — an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer surgery — wrote in no uncertain terms:

"However, the myth that wearing bras increases the risk of breast cancer is one of those unsinkable rubber ducks of a myth that just won’t die...It’s unclear where and how long ago this myth first appeared, but there’s little doubt on when it was first popularized: 1995. That was the year that a book by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer entitledDressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras was published. The central thesis of the book was that bra-wearing is a major cause of breast cancer because of its claimed effect on lymphatic circulation...This concept, that “toxins” somehow accumulate if lymphatic drainage is somehow blocked is one of the key concepts behind the quackery that is “detoxification,” used by quacks of many stripes."

That being said, be aware that...

Failure to take a bra-break can actually lead to benign health issues, including nerve pain. But it’s not specific to just bras. Nerve pain can occur from wearing any too-tight garment, including skinny jeans, Spanx and compression workout wear. 

In rare cases, the combination of poor posture and too-tight bra straps can lead to costo-clavicular syndrome, marked by numbness, weakness and pain in the space between the collarbone and first rib.

Whether it’s during the day or overnight, give your breasts a chance to breathe.