Actress Halle Berry once said in an interview with Yahoo! Style that she has worn a bra to bed every night since she was 16 to keep her breasts perky.
"My mother taught me when I was very young that if I don’t want my boobs to hit my knees by the time I’m 30, always wear a bra, even to bed,” Berry said.
Legend has it that Marilyn Monroe also slept in a bra to keep the gals up, and model Tyra Banks has stated that she also does it for the same reason.
While women all over the world would do some questionable things to defy age and gravity, is there any truth to this belief?
In this post we’ll explore what science has to say about wearing a bra to sleep to prevent sagging and see if we can find out once and for all: is it wrong to wear a bra to bed?
Myth #1. Wearing a bra to bed keeps your breasts perky.
Lots of women seem to believe this one, but is it really true? Is it really as simple as wearing a bra to sleep? Unfortunately not. According to Dr. Dan Mills, vice president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, “a bra will hold up your breasts to give you the shape and look you want, but it can’t prevent further sagging, which is caused by age and gravity.”
Sagging is caused by stretching of the skin and ligaments, particularly the suspensory ligaments known as Cooper's ligaments. While a bra can help to prevent this stretching while you're upright it doesn’t do much while you are sleeping.
Mia Talmor, M.D., told SELF magazine that, "Bras are designed to help with vertical positioning, but when you’re lying in bed, you need more horizontal support.” Bras help with pushing the breasts up but not so much with pushing them inward.
Myth #2. Wearing a bra to bed will cause your breasts to sag.
Let’s examine the flip side to the first myth. In 2013 a study that was published in France stated that wearing a bra causes breasts to sag more over time. According to the study, bras prohibit the formation of supportive muscle tissue.
Many doctors disagree with this because the breasts don’t contain muscle tissue, to begin with. Breasts are made up of skin, fat, and ligaments.
“Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra doesn’t change the fact that these are all physiological changes that happen to your breasts over time,” said Dr. Amber A. Guth, breast surgeon and an associate professor of surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Myth #3. Wearing a bra to bed will cause cancer.
This myth says that wearing an underwire bra to sleep causes cancer by restricting the flow of lymph fluid from the bottom of the breast. True? No, but the confusion is understandable.
There are important lymph nodes located around the inframammary crease (the bottom of the breast) and the armpit. Wearing an underwire bra that’s too tight can restrict the flow of lymph fluid, but there is no evidence to suggest that it will cause cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, lymph fluids travel up and into the underarm lymph nodes, not towards the underwire. Multiple studies have found no link between bra use and breast cancer.
Dr. Deborah Axelrod, a breast surgeon told Shape Magazine, "Underwire bras do not cause or increase your risk of breast cancer." She goes on to say that there is simply no scientific evidence to support the theory, so rest assured that your bra is not going to give you cancer.
Myth #4. Wearing a bra to sleep can give you fungus.
This one is actually possible--but very rarely so. There is a type of yeast infection that can happen due to yeast overgrowth in the folds underneath or between your breasts. But for most women this is never an issue.
For some women who are overweight or diabetic and have a history of this type of infection there can be a risk of experiencing an issue. For some of these women wearing a bra to sleep can trap sweat and moisture in the folds of the skin and increase the risk of problems.
Symptoms include a shiny, red rash in the breast folds, itching, burning, and pain at the rash site. It’s important to wash your bras regularly, especially if you think you may have a yeast infection. If you have any symptoms talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
So what if you do decide to wear a bra to bed? What bras are best?
We’ve discovered that there’s no harm in wearing a bra to bed. Some women simply find it more comfortable, and find they sleep better when they wear a bra to bed. The thing that really matters is the type of bra that you wear. Sleep bras are all about comfort–there is no need wear a maximum support bra when you are lying down.
Here are a couple of our top picks:
- The Easy/Off Front-Close Underwire Bra is made of soft, breathable fabric and is wire-free. The soft self-adjusting cups stretch to fit you, and the wide back is smooth and comfortable. The front closure means that there are no hooks in the back so it’s perfect for sleeping.
- The Off Duty Front-Close T-Back Comfort Bra has self-adjusting cups that are both soft and comfortable.
We’ve discovered that as long as you’re wearing the right type of bra, wearing one to sleep is really a matter of personal preference.
There’s no evidence to suggest that it will make your breasts perkier, or cause issues, so if you’re more comfortable with one on go for it, and if you’re not that’s ok too.