Sleeping in a Bra: Helpful or Harmful?

There is a lot of controversy among women over the notion of sleeping in our bras.  Some women regard the idea with horror and discomfort, while others have been doing it, without a second thought, since their preteens.

There are many claims that have circulated for decades concerning the benefits and possible health risks attributed to wearing a bra to sleep. Some research has even suggested that it could even lead to breast cancer. But is any of this true?

Amber Guth, M.D., associate professor of surgery and director of the Breast Cancer Surgery Multidisciplinary Fellowship at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Huffington Post “there is certainly no evidence that sleeping in bras is either helpful or harmful.”

According to Shape Magazine, this rumor started with a 1950’s book Dressed to Kill, by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. In the book, the authors claim that the restrictive nature of a bra constricts the lymphatic system, inhibiting it from functioning properly and causing a buildup of fluid within the breast tissue.

According to Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, a recent case-control study found no association between bra wearing and an increased risk in breast cancer.

“Study participants were 454 women with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and 590 women with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), the two most common subtypes of breast cancer, from the Seattle-Puget Sound metropolitan area; 469 women who did not have breast cancer served as controls. All women were postmenopausal, ages 55 to 74.”

The researchers then conducted interviews with the participants, to gather information regarding family history, reproductive history, and demographics. The participants were asked several questions concerning their bra-wearing rituals and patterns, spanning all the way back to when they first started wearing one.

Lu Chen, MPH, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center explains, “Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra.”

Many bra-wearing sleepers claim they’ve been doing it for years for the main reason of keeping their girls from sagging. But can this simple trick really help bolster our chests in the long run?  “Sagging or changes in the breast are due to a number of factors: Pregnancy and breastfeeding being the most common causes, along with time and gravity” Guth says.

The scientific name for droop is ptosis. Ptosis happens due to a combination of size, age, and gravity. With age, the natural collagen levels in our skin begin to deplete.  Furthermore, gravity stretches the skin around the breasts. Size also plays a large part in the process. Whether due to pregnancy, weight gain, implants or genes, larger breasts have a greater risk of sagging.

Going braless doesn’t seem to be the main reason for the unfortunate phenomenon of breast ptosis, and wearing a bra to bed doesn’t seem to pose any major benefits. However, according to Arthur Perry, M.D., it might be beneficial for women with C cups and up to make it a habit of sleeping with a little extra support at night.


Works Cited:

Chan, Amanda L. “Is It Bad To Wear A Bra To Sleep?” The Huffington Post., 18 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <>.

Moore, Jeremy. “Research Finds No Association between Wearing a Bra and Breast Cancer.” EurekAlert! American Association for Cancer Research, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <>.

You Beauty Editors. “Ask a Scientist: Should I Sleep in a Bra? –” YouBeauty. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <>.

3 thoughts on “Sleeping in a Bra: Helpful or Harmful?

  1. jvh5620

    I have heard that it is not good to sleep in a bra, and I have also heard that it is irrelevant whether or not you sleep with bra. Dr. Amber Guth states ” There is certainly no evidence that sleeping in bras is either either helpful or harmful.” According to the article, the conclusion has been made that ” there is no direct connection between sleeping in a bra and breast cancer, however wearing a bra at night could offer more support of comfort.”

  2. Jenna Rae Stoklosa

    I have heard both sides, that it is harmful to wear a bra to bed, and that it does not matter if you wear a bra to bed. One article that I found stated that wearing a bra to bed will not keep your boobs perky.Deborah Axelrod M.D. stated that it will not keep your breasts perky. Wearing the right bra size can help keep them looking perky but it will not physically keep them perky. She also stated that sleeping in a bra will not flatten your breasts. “You’d have to be wearing a corset that doesn’t let you breathe for that to happen!” she said.

    Here is the article:

  3. Elizabeth Ann Dixon

    I found your post to be very interesting because I’ve heard many different rumors about what wearing or not wearing a bra to bed does to your breasts and health. As you said it’s been said to possibly keep ones breasts perky and if you have a side C or bigger it is a good idea to wear one to prevent sagging. However, I read a shape magazine article that states that wearing a bra could potentially flatten your breasts.

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