When I think about a bra, the first thing that comes to mind is the sports bra I wear for support at the gym or my daily bra for foundation. But those are just for our waking hours — there’s no reason to wear a bra to sleep, right?
While many of us are eager to rip our bras off at the end of the day, some women say they don’t feel comfortable when they’re not wearing one, and argue that there are a lot of benefits to keeping one on while you sleep. We discussed with two experts to learn more.
“The purpose of wearing a bra to bed is for extra comfort for your body, and extra care or comfort for your breast,” says Josie-Anne Le Diouron, a bra expert and the marketing coordinator of Empreinte North America. As long as your bra doesn’t leave any marks or indentations, or cause any discomfort of your skin, then it’s good to go if you want to add it to your nighttime routine.
One of the main reasons women say they wear a bra to bed is to help prevent the breasts from sagging. This surely applies to wearing a bra during the day when you’re active and standing and your breasts are subject to the laws of gravity, but is that still applicable when you’re lying down? “Women should sleep comfortably without concern that going without a bra will lead to sagging,” says Dr. Christine Sterling, an OB/GYN who practices in San Diego, California. “There are a multitude of reasons why our breasts hang lower as we age. What we wear to bed, when we are horizontal, is such a small part of that equation.”
Some women wear bras while sleeping because of nipple sensitivity, especially if they’re nursing. “Women who are breastfeeding often choose to wear a comfortable sleeping or nursing bra to protect their nipples from excessive stimulation and to protect their clothing from leaking. Women should wear whatever makes them feel best, as there are no health risks to wearing or not wearing a bra while sleeping,” says Dr. Sterling.
“Some women wear a bra in bed to feel that their breasts are secured. The larger the breast, the more women tend to wear a bra while sleeping, as during the night they can experience pain and discomfort in their breast if it is not secured with a bra,” says Le Diouron.
Sleeping in a bra may also be a good solution for women who experience discomfort when they let their breasts go free. For smaller breasts, like A or B cups, this may not be necessary, but for larger cup sizes — like F, G and beyond — wearing a bra to bed is definitely something to consider. “I would recommend a soft bra rather than one with underwire, since when you’re lying down, depending on your position and how much you move, the wire can potentially hurt you or provide discomfort at some point,” says Le Diouron.
Choosing the right bra
If you do want to sleep in a bra, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right one for you, as your nighttime bra probably won’t be the same one you wear during the day. The best sleeping bras are made of breathable, soft materials; don’t have any underwire, embellishments, or other adornments that could hurt you during the night; and provide firm support while still offering the freedom to move. “There are bras that are made just for sleeping,” explains Jené Luciani, the author of the The Bra Book. “Some are ‘cooling,’ which are great for menopausal women, and some are just to keep the breasts separated and encapsulated,” she says.
Ultimately, they’re your breasts and you should decide how to dress them. So, if wearing a foundation garment when you sleep makes you feel more comfortable, for any reason, the experts agree — go for it!