Does sleeping in a compressive sports bra stop our breasts from sagging, or can it actually lead to more sinister health problems down the track? An expert undresses some of the biggest misconceptions about our bedtime bra preferences.
Asking someone whether they wear a bra to bed or not, is like reigniting the scrunch vs. fold toilet paper debate. I’ve found people are staunchly opposed to one or the other, which probably explains how some pretty wacky myths and pieces of advice managed to start circulating.
In fact, if you type the simple phrase ‘sleeping in a bra’ into any search engine, you’ll be immediately confronted with some pretty jarring questions. From curiosities about whether sleeping in tight crop will prevent girls from sagging to concerns over whether constricting your breast throughout the night could be a catalyst for breast cancer, the internet is ripe with theories and anxieties.
Digging underwires and scratchy tags aside, many women simply prefer to sleep with a bit of extra support. So, to put everyone’s minds (and chests) at ease, here’s everything you need to know about sleeping in a compressive bra according to an expert.
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Can your bra actually alter the shape of your breasts?
Much like the disproven idea that wearing no bra at all could see your bust succumb to the laws of gravity much sooner than intended, your bedtime bra preferences can’t drastically alter the physiological shape of your girls. According to Dr Kavita Krishnan, a GP specialising in specialises in breastfeeding medicine and maternal health.
“Sleeping in a bra that is too tight and restrictive can cause skin irritation, and discomfort and affect overall sleep quality,” says Dr Krishnan. “However, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that it causes damage to our breasts or compromises the integrity of the connective tissue.”
As the GP explains, breasts are an amazingly compliant part of the human body, adapting to some pretty intense changes throughout our lifetime. Their resilience is a result of Cooper’s ligaments, connective tissue responsible for supporting the breast tissue and shape.
“Women should feel confident wearing what is comfortable for them at night and allows the best sleep quality,” she says. “The only exception to this would be a postnatal mother; restrictive garments have been shown to impact breast milk supply.”
What to look out for – and avoid– in a bedtime bra
But when it comes to weighing up the pros and cons of all the sleepwear options available to women (including the naked slumber), Dr Krishnan says each woman should feel empowered to choose whatever they feel most comfortable with. “There is no medical reason to push one suggestion or the other,” she says. “Many women find it empowering to sleep naked and there can be benefits to airing out our regions. However, many people feel exposed or uncomfortable.”
While we’ve all got a favourite push-up weapon to keep our girls looking their best, the requirements for the perfect bedtime undergarment are vastly different. The most important thing the GP urges us to consider when it comes to our bedtime garments is the material they’re made from.
For women who prefer overnight support, the GP suggests sticking bras and tanks that are made from ‘breathable, lightweight natural fibres’, such as bamboo and cotton to allow the best circulation and skin health. Likewise, the styles Dr Krishnan recommends we keep away from tend to be made from synthetic materials, “Synthetic materials are always best to avoid, for health and environmental reasons”.
Despite being a chronic over-heater in bed, I can never quite bring myself to sleep totally unencumbered. Whether it’s a singlet, my partner’s t-shirt or a flimsy crop, I always wear something to bed– and I know I’m not alone. So, without sacrificing comfort and aesthetics, finding the perfect sleepy crop top or tank can be a challenge– until now. Here are some I’ve tried and tested, and can guarantee the experts would approve of.
My top picks for a supported slumber
SKIMS, Soft Lounge Tank, $70 from skims.com
Being a hardcore Kardashian fan, I was curious to see what all the SKIMS fuss was about, eventually sacrificing the $70 and buying one of her viral tanks (in the name of research). A day after it arrived, I ordered five more. Say what you will about Kim, but the reality star-turned-business mogul sure knows her way around a cropped tank. The material is to die for, and the shape and fit are so flattering it’s almost a shame they only get to come out in the privacy of my own home.
Bonds, Retro Rib Deep V Bra, $32.99 from theiconic.com.au
This Bonds bralette is another routine staple on regular rotation in my wardrobe. The shape is generous enough for a C/D cup bust, and the thicker straps ensure nothing pops out of place throughout the night.
Boody, Shelf Bra Crop Top, $44.95 from boody.com.au
With a comfy inbuilt bra, this breathable bamboo tank is exactly what the doctor ordered. Aside from being ridiculously comfy, the shape and material of this bedtime set make it moisture-wicking, hypoallergenic and as easy on the environment as it is on the eye.