Beauty and the bra: The facts and falsities of wearing a bra to bed

She kicks off her shoes and drops her bag on the floor. She pauses and takes in the silence. After a long day of classes – or work, perhaps – being home, she releases the weight off her shoulders, however, not entirely. She makes her way to her bedroom where she throws her pants and shirt onto the chair in the corner of the room.

She looks at herself in the mirror. Her hands reach behind her back where she undoes the clasp of her bra. She exhales a sigh of relief.

Taking your bra off at the end of the day may not be as dramatic as described above, but you have to admit it feels damn good. While some choose to free themselves, so to speak, others opt for a full-time commitment to their bras. Most notably, sleeping while wearing a bra has sparked debates, rumours, and falsities about its repercussions.

In 1995 Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, the authors of Dressed to Kill, proposed a link between bras and breast cancer. They claimed that underwire bras constricted the lymphatic systems causing the accumulation of your body’s toxins in breast tissue.This simply is untrue.

“It’s a mutation in particular genes that can cause a woman to develop breast cancer,” explains Sonia Nanda, a certified genetic counsellor at the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, Ontario. “You’re born with the mutation.”

However, that is not to say this is the only way breast cancer can occur.

“The majority of cancer is not due to genetics, they’re due to other factors,” says Nanda.

However, there has been no scientific proof either way regarding breast health and wearing a bra while you sleep.

“We know there are things that you can do to try and lower your overall cancer risk but has anything been definitively proven? I don’t really think so,” reiterates Nanda. “All physicians or all healthcare professionals in the field will say the typical things – don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, [and] everything in moderation.”

On the other, less deadly, hand, the ‘bra while you sleep’ theory has brought about the idea that it will improve your breasts’ appearance and prevent the irritating effects of gravity. Unfortunately, this is also false. It is none other than your microscopic ligaments that keep your breasts in place; ligaments that unfortunately stretch and weaken with age. However, working on your pectorals is a good way to strengthen the muscles in your chest, giving the appearance of a firmer and tighter, thus perkier, bust.

In the end, sleeping with a bra on is all about preference. If it is something you have always done or are accustomed to, you have no reason to stop. For those who forego wearing a bra overnight, you should not stop either. Living an unhealthy lifestyle or being born with a mutation, as Nanda mentions, may result in breast cancer. And as for the shape of your breasts, they cannot be permanently altered by wearing an item of clothing. If this was the case, Victoria’s Secret would be out of business.


1 comment

  1. Another point not mentioned in the article, is that bras aren’t designed to be worn 24 hours. So if you wear them to bed, be prepared to fork out a lot of money on bras every year. To wear a bra for double the amount of time than they are designed for, will require you buying new ones twice as often as you should.

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