Sleeping in a Bra: Harmful or Helpful?

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"I started wearing training bras regularly when I was about 10 and I slept in them — they were basically like sports bras so they were super comfy," said Erica Cheung, an intern for Stylist.com. "Only when I started wearing bras with more support and underwire did I realize that sleeping in them wasn't very comfortable, but I got used to it. Occasionally, the underwire in my bras hurt and I would wake up with my bra all off-kilter and half way wound behind me. I mainly did it because my mom told me that it was good for me and that I basically had to."

It’s this discomfort that has led many women to believe sleeping with a bra can have health risks. Becker strongly recommends wearing a soft-cup bra at night.

Sleeping in a bra with a wire can give you cysts or irritate your breasts," Becker said.  

Dr. Guth also stresses the importance of wearing a well-fitted bra.

“Certainly no bra or breast support should be so tight that it constricts or blocks any form of circulation. However, if the routine use of bras contributed to lymphatic blockage, you should be seeing other signs such as edema or fluid accumulation in the breasts, and non-cancerous changes in the shape/size of the axillary lymph node. These lymph nodes in the underarm area drain the breast, and are the body’s first defense against infection, foreign material and cancer cells. They act like a filter, cleaning out the lymph fluid."

Although scientists have yet to pin point links between health risks and brassieres, Guth believes that sleeping in a support bra just depends on a woman’s choice in comfort.

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