Growing up, you probably heard one school of thought or the other – either you should sleep without a bra on, or you should sleep with one on. As time goes on, we tend to stick with what our mom or friends impressed upon us, and we typically don’t stray from what we’re used to. Regardless of what you’ve grown up doing, women’s locker room talk may leave you wondering if you should start to sleep without a bra.
So, if you’re thinking about joining the braless bandwagon, or looking for confirmation for your night-time lifestyle choices, here’s a look at 12 reasons why you should sleep without a bra.
1. You May Need to Bring Back the Blood Circulation
Often, with new ones especially, we tend to wear our bras too tight. The tightness helps to make sure we stay in place and don’t slip out, and for many of us, it can help to make us feel more secure. The problem is that bras that are too tight can start to cut off the blood circulation to our breasts.
For regular blood flow to your breasts and the tissues around it, you need to give them a break from the constriction they feel all day, every day. By taking your bra off in the evening and sleeping without one on, you’re giving the tissues in your body the chance to regenerate, heal, and receive nutrients.
With the combination of restricted blood and lymphatic flow (which you’ll read about next), women who wear tighter bras are at a higher risk for breast cancer. While there are many other factors that are involved with cancer, studies show that wearing a bra that is too tight for too many hours in the day does increase the possibility. Meaning that if you’re sleeping in it, your breasts are definitely not getting the circulation they need.
2. It’s Ideal For the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a fascinating aspect of the body and is vital for the immunity and protection of the body. This system gets its name from lymph, which is a fluid that is filled with white blood cells which help remove waste, toxins, and any other unwanted substances. Our body is filled with lymph nodes, which act as little hubs to transfer lymph through tiny vessels that are scattered from our head down to our knees.
You might be wondering how a simple bra can do any damage, but the vessels that transport the lymph between the lymph nodes are very thin and therefore are very sensitive. Now, all of this is important because while you have these nodes all over (hundreds of them, in fact), there are some significant ones in your lungs, heart, breasts, and underarms (among other places).
Wearing a restricting bra to bed can hinder the flow of the lymph, and can cause fluid build-up, swelling, infection, and blockages (not to mention the increased chance of breast cancer that we learned earlier). Personally, I can’t think of too many reasons why I would want to potentially stop my body from doing its job and keeping me healthy.
3. There Is Less Wear And Tear On the Bra
Bras are expensive. And despite what the Victoria’s Secret ads show us, all those lacy, flattering fabrics are not meant for bedtime wear. Sleeping with even a regular bra on adds unnecessary stretching and friction to the material.
If you regularly wear your bras to bed, you’ll have to replace them more often than you already do. The extra movement can also be enough to cause the underwire (if there is one) to come out, giving the bra its own set of wings and sending it straight to lingerie heaven.
Thinking about how often you wash your sheets or the clothes that you sleep in (hint: the answer should be every week to two weeks for your sheets), you should be washing your bras just as often, if not more. Add that to the wear and tear of the bra, and you’re cycling through bras faster than the guys in the Tour de France.
4. You Can Prevent Unnecessary Sweating
Especially in the warmer months, most of us want to stay cool while we’re sleeping, which is why we wear loose-fitting clothing or nothing at all. Keeping your bra on while you sleep creates a humid, moist environment for your chest, and can promote sweating throughout your body.
Think you don’t sweat? Studies show that wearing a bra actually increases your chances of sweating and therefore disrupting your circadian rhythm. If unnecessary body sweat during the night doesn’t sound incredibly uncomfortable, I don’t know what does.
In addition to the restlessness and disrupted sleep from sweating, there’s also the hygienic aspect to consider. Even if it doesn’t wake you up, our bodies do still tend to sweat more based on the time of the month, the food that we’ve eaten, or medications that we have taken.
5. It Allows the Skin to Bounce Back
If you have ever taken off your bra and there have been indents from the straps or chest band, you are wearing it too tightly. Now imagine doing that for 12 or more hours a day. Even wearing a bra that isn’t entirely too tight can still leave indents.
While this isn’t a significant health concern, it’s an undesirable effect on the body. Just like you take of any other accessories to give your skin a chance to come back, such as rings, hair ties on your wrist, hats, and clothing, your shoulders and ribcage would appreciate a reprieve.
Also, if you have ever noticed women who have permanent bra strap grooves on their shoulders, taking a break from the bra might be a great way to avoid these in the future.
6. You Can Improve Comfort And Sleep Quality
Let’s be real. Even the most comfortable bra can start to feel restricting after a full day of wear. For some of us, wearing any bra at all feels like some sort of tiny torture device. While you are asleep at night, your brain and body can still process things like poor mattress quality, errant sounds, and the feel of the clothing that you’re wearing.
If you are a light sleeper, the slightest amount of discomfort can easily wake you, but it’s the in-between sleep and wakefulness that will truly disrupt your sleep. Even if you don’t feel like you are continually waking from the feeling of your bra, the shifting, constriction, and general sense of fabric being so close to your skin can be enough to keep you in the first stages of sleep. Meaning you won’t be spending enough time in deep sleep and can wake up feeling unrested.
The disadvantages of not getting enough quality sleep have been linked to health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Memory problems, leading to Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
7. It’s So Freeing
Aside from the added comfort that you may feel while sleeping, there’s a certain amount of freedom and liberation that comes from not wearing a bra. For those of us out there who more endowed, walking around town without a bra might be something short of a crime. And for some, it may make you feel more exposed than you’d prefer. Why, then, would you not want to be free in the comfort of your own home?
By sleeping without a bra, you can allow your body to be at its most natural form, without the confines of society telling you to cover yourself. Just like you don’t sleep in makeup or do your hair to fit in with society’s idea of beauty, you don’t need to look like a supermodel when you head to bed. If the men get to be free, why can’t we?
8. The Myth About Sagging is False
At some point in our beauty-conscious lives, we’ve heard that sleeping without a bra will either prevent your breasts from sagging, or it will cause your breasts to sag. As it happens, there has yet to be any scientific evidence that sleeping with or without a bra will have any impact on the direction that the girls are heading.
Breast sagging is a result of age and gravity. So, if you have been in the mindset that you are helping your future perkiness by sleeping with a bra, sadly, those efforts are in vain.
9. You Can Prevent Skin Irritation And Lesions
More than just causing wear and tear to your bra because of the friction while you are rolling around in bed, you are also causing the fabric to rub against your skin. It may not be noticeable after one or two nights, but all it takes is one night of disrupted sleep, for your closest friend to commit the ultimate betrayal – injury. Because of the oils, dirt, and sweat from your skin, the rubbing of material against it can cause irritation anywhere where your bra is touching.
Also, women with larger breasts are more prone to developing rashes when wearing bras due to skin chafing, especially under the breasts. These rashes are called intertrigo and can happen when:
- We sweat
- There is too much heat or moisture
- There isn’t enough air circulation
- There is friction in the folds
10. You Can Promote Proper Deep Breathing
The purpose of a bra is for support. While you want your bras to be comfortable, they also need to be slightly firm or snug in order to keep everything in place. During the day, this can make you feel as though deep breathing isn’t exactly the most straightforward task. If you’re wearing a bra right now, take a deep breath. Now think about the last time you did that.
When we lay down, our airways become narrower and are slightly constricted, making deep breathing even more difficult. Add on the compact nature of a bra, and your breathing is bound to be more labored, and shallower. That deep breath that you just took will be harder to do when you’re sleeping, and your breathing has slowed in general.
Obviously, the chances of the complete cut-off of your oxygen intake are slim, but it could make for a night of more restless sleep. And no one wants that.
11. You Can Avoid A Fungal Infection
You’ve heard of a yeast infection, right? Did you know that you can get an infection in the cleavage of your breasts or the folds underneath? If you didn’t know, our skin is full of yeast cells called Candida. These cells help to rid the body of built-up dead cells. So having a certain amount of yeast cells is ideal.
However, these cells are actually a fungus, and when too much of it builds up, the balance is thrown off and an infection can occur. This is especially true in situations of high humidity, which would create the breeding ground if you are prone to sweating, as we discussed above.
If you believe that you have a yeast infection in your breasts, medication can be purchased at your local pharmacy, but it may be a good idea to see your doctor. The symptoms of a yeast infection in the breasts include:
- Foul odor
- Cracks in the skin
- Bleeding (in severe cases)
12. Your Bra Probably Doesn’t Fit
There’s a number floating around at the moment, and that number is 80. What does this number mean, you ask? That’s the percentage of women who are wearing bras that don’t fit them properly in the first place. With numbers like that, you could very well be one of them.
The health and hygienic risks that go with wearing an ill-fitting bra are vast, including many of the reasons on this list. For many of us, they are enough to make the most confident woman head straight to the nearest lingerie store to get fitted. If you are curious as to whether or not your bra fits correctly (or you know for a fact that it doesn’t), you should definitely start wearing it less than you already do.
A bra that doesn’t fit as no place in the bedroom. The very least that you can do is minimize the amount of time you spend wearing it, by taking the bra off while you sleep.
There may be many reasons why we continue to wear a bra that doesn’t fit, including:
- Lack of knowledge – women who haven’t been given an education on undergarments, their wear, and hygiene (especially young women).
- Lack of caring – women who know that their bras don’t fit, but it’s not high on the list of things to do.
- Cost of bras – As I said before, they’re expensive. It may be more convenient to wear one that is just slightly off, versus buying a new one each time you gain or lose weight.
Of course, there are some women out there who must sleep with some amount of support. For example, if you have recently had surgery or you’re in the point of your menstrual cycle when your breasts feel swollen and sore, a bra might actually help you experience some comfort.
If you have been sleeping with a bra for any length of time and cannot imagine your nights without one, you may want to look into bras that are designed for sleeping. These won’t be your every day, wear to work bras, but they will provide support and comfort, without some of the issues above.
Things you might look for include:
- Wide straps – Especially for women with larger breasts, wide straps are the best for keeping you supported and in place. It’s also great for anyone, large or small, who suffers from shoulder or neck pain caused by bra wearing.
- No underwire – Any underwire wearing woman will tell you that these things can sometimes be lethal. All it takes is one good jab, and you will never look at your bra the same. When you’re sleeping, it’s best to avoid any potential injury by sleeping without underwire anywhere near the ladies.
- Lightweight material – Some of the bras we have are made of lace, satin, and various other materials that aren’t ideal if you’re trying to avoid sweating. Look for lightweight cotton, bamboo, or other breathable materials that won’t make you feel stuffy in the chest.
- No bells and whistles – When it comes to the bra that you choose to sleep in, keep it simple. If possible, avoid metal clasps, seams, and any other extras that will add to your discomfort.
And In Bra Closure…
Even though there are some celebrities out there who insist that they sleep with a bra and that’s the secret to keeping themselves perky, we should all consider the other help that they may have in their daily lives. These can include surgeries or tricks of the trade that they haven’t admitted to.
While there are exceptions to every rule, you should definitely stop to think about which benefits and which risks you are introducing yourself to when it comes to your bra. If it turns out that the cons are outweighing the pros – you should absolutely sleep without a bra tonight!