There are many myths on whether or not sleeping in a bra can aid or harm your health. Many women feel that wearing a bra at night might perk up their chest. However, some research has linked wearing a supportive bra while sleeping to breast cancer. Either way, Dr. Amber Guth, an associate professor of surgery and director of the Breast Cancer Surgery Multidisciplinary Fellowship at NYC Langone Medical Center wants to demystify the effects.
"There is certainly no evidence that sleeping in bras is either helpful or harmful," Guth said.
"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."
Linda Becker, a professional bra fitter at a New York boutique believes that there are some benefits to wearing a supportive bra at night.
"Either your breasts are being supported for eight hours, or they're not being supported for eight hours. What do you think is better? It's just common sense,” Becker said. “If your breasts are being held up, they're going to stay up a lot longer. When you take your bra off at the end of the day, they're a lot higher than when you put it on in the morning."
Becker even suggested that women of a certain cup should consider wearing a bra while sleeping.
"It really depends on the size of your breast," Becker explained. "If you're an A-cup or B-cup, no. If your breasts are bigger than a D, Double-D and up, you should. Some people's breasts hurt them when they sleep, so they need to wear a bra. Some people need it for support."
Her position raises another issue: How much support does a woman actually need?
"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.