Sleep Bras: What Are They and How Do I Know If I Need One

Posted by Gemma Henry - Content Lead on 28th Mar 2024

Sleep Bras: What Are They and How Do I Know If I Need One

When it comes to sleeping in a bra, there are two schools of thought and boy oh boy do they find it hard to agree. In one corner you’ve got the staunch anti-night bra brigade who’ll give you a whole host of reasons that wearing a bra in bed is a bad, and potentially dangerous, choice. In the other, those who wouldn’t sleep without the support of a bra purchased especially for night time. It’s a surprisingly contentious subject and one that we think deserves further investigation.

We couldn’t resist pulling on our investigating undies and grabbing our notebooks as we set off on another exciting journey into the world of sleep. The aim? To answer the question women have been asking since time immemorial (or at least since the first bra was patented in 1914) – to night bra or not to night bra? Along the way we asked whether wearing a bra at night could cause health problems or whether, to the contrary, staying gussied up while sleeping keeps things perky. We delved deep into the best sleep bras on the market too, taking in the maternity night bra, sleep bras for large busts and many more besides along the way, so whatever your size, shape or situation you know we’ve got you covered like a well-fitting brassiere.

Is Wearing a Bra at Night Bad For You?

A bra discarded at the foot of a bed while a woman sleeps soundly

You’ve probably heard the old wives’ tales, but are they just that? Or is there some truth to the rumours?

Can wearing a sleep bra cause cancer?

It’s something we’ve all likely heard at some point (especially those dedicated wearers of the night bra) but we’re happy to say that there’s absolutely no medical evidence to suggest that wearing a bra through the night can heighten your risk of developing cancer. Indeed, there are no peer-reviewed medical studies out there to suggest any negative medical effects can occur due to wearing a bra overnight (1).

Does wearing a night bra stunt breast growth?

If you ever tried the old ‘I must increase my bust’ manoeuvre as a pre-teen you probably also dug deep into the pros and cons of wearing a bra at night and perhaps heard on the high school grapevine that keeping your bra on after dark can stop your breasts growing as they should. Again, there’s absolutely no evidence to show that this is the case, so if you wish to keep that bra on do so safe in the knowledge that if DDs are gonna come, they’re gonna come regardless of your nightwear (2).

Are there any downsides to wearing a bra at night?

While there’s no proof that wearing a sleep bra can cause serious problems, there are some potential night bra cons you may wish to consider:

  • Skin issues: wearing a bra can cause irritation and rashes, particularly when you’re laying down and moving around at night. In addition the dampness of night sweats can be held in a bra’s fabric. This can, in turn, led to breast fungus, an unpleasant skin infection
  • Circulation problems: wearing a bra that’s too tight, especially if you don’t give your body a break from it, could, some suggest, lead to circulatory issues. Signs that your bra is restricting blood flow might include numbness and sore arms
  • Pigmentation: wearing an ill-fitting bra for long periods of time can not only impact your circulation, it may also cause sore, discoloured, or hyperpigmented, patches of skin
  • Discomfort: often we’re not even aware of sleep disturbances. However, if you’re waking up in the morning feeling tired and unrefreshed there may be something wrong. Wearing an uncomfortable bra, especially if it’s underwired and can pinch or put pressure on your skin, at night could well be the cause of a bad night’s sleep

When is Wearing a Night Bra a Good Idea?

A rail of bras on hangers in every colour and design

So what are the pros to wearing a bra at night? Are there any situations in which keeping your bra on while you sleep is recommended?

Can wearing a sleep bra stop sagging breasts?

One of the key reasons people choose to pop a bra on at night is because they believe it’llhelp keep their breasts perky. Unfortunately, no matter what bra you choose to wear and when you wear it, gravity is likely to take its toll eventually. Factors at play include genetics, weight loss and gain, hormones, pregnancy and smoking. The most reliable way to avoid the dreaded boob sag? Exercises like push ups, chest presses and yoga’s cobra pose (3).

Is a nursing sleep bra a good idea?

Many people will choose to wear a bra at night when breastfeeding. This allows you to tuck breast pads in place, preventing the mess of overnight milk leakage. It can also take the strain from the aches and pains you’re likely to experience during this time. Just remember to change your bra and your pads regularly to avoid infections.

Other night bra positives

There are a few other reasons you may prefer to wear a bra at night. These include:

  • Large breasts: those with larger breasts may find setting them free uncomfortable, making sleep difficult. A good sleep bra for large busts keeps everything in place, helping you to find the perfect sleep position
  • Pregnancy: during pregnancy your boobs will change, grow and become tender. For this reason many people opt for a maternity night bra for overnight comfort and support
  • Modesty and comfort: some people just prefer to be covered up at night and choose a sleep bra for personal comfort
  • Bad backs: if you have upper back pain a well-fitting bra, worn both during the day and overnight, could help to take the strain, particularly if heavy breasts are a factor
  • Friction and sore skin folds: if friction and soreness causes a problem – especially if sweat tends to pool beneath your breasts –wearing a bra could help reduce irritation by absorbing moisture and keeping those breasts lifted. Be sure to regularly wash your bra to minimise the risk of infection
  • Post surgery or piercings: you may be advised to sleep in a bra if you’ve recently had breast surgery or if you have a new nipple piercing. Providing support while you heal up, a bra can help to keep gauze and drains in place

Top Tips for Wearing a Sleep Bra

A nude bra, a black one, and a sage green bra piled up on a beige towel

If you’ve decided that sleeping in a bra is right for you, read on for our handy tips to help night time bra wearing more comfortable, more hygienic and more practical.

Your daytime bra shouldn’t double as a night bra

This is especially true if your daytime bra is underwired. Underwire is, generally speaking, a no-no for night time bra wearing because it can cause discomfort, digging in to your skin and disrupting your sleep. Opt for a bra designed specifically to be worn in bed for the ultimate in night-time cosiness.

Regular washing of your sleep bra is a non-negotiable

As detailed above, while a sleep bra can be a good idea for those suffering the dreaded night sweats, good hygiene is vital. A damp bra can be a breeding ground for nasty bugs so be sure to change regularly and throw your bra through the wash. Most sleep bras are soft and free from delicate materials, meaning that they can be washed as normal, alongside your panties and your PJs.

A fitted camisole is a good alternative to a sleep bra

If you’re not sold on the idea of a night bra but would like that extra comfort and coverage, a simple cotton camisole can be a good alternative. Choosing a fitted style, particularly one with an in-built support ‘shelf’, can give you just a little support while helping to keep large boobs from running riot. If your skin is easily irritated but you’d still like a little cover while you sleep a looser silk cami is a comfy, and pretty darn sophisticated, alternative.

Your night bra won’t last forever

We get it, bras are pricey and a boring cotton sleep bra is the last thing you want to spend your hard earned cash on. Especially when there are lovely lace balconettes on that rack over there. However, regularly replacing your bra is a must if support is important to you. Over time a bra will lose its form and stretch out meaning that the support you enjoyed on day one is not the support you’re getting a few months or years down the line. Depending on the quality of your bra, experts advise replacing it every six to twelve months.

How to Choose the Best Sleep Bra

A woman stretching in her PJ shorts and cami top as she wakes up after a restful night's sleep.

There’s a wide range of sleep bras out there, meaning that, should you opt to wear one, you’re bound to find something that suits your needs. To narrow down your options, follow our guide to buying the perfect sleep bra.

Get fitted for your night bra

We’re all guilty of taking a guess when it comes to bra sizings but a well-fitting bra is essential, whether you’re wearing it at night or during the day. Pop into a department store or lingerie shop for a professional fitting to ensure that you’re wearing the right size bra for you. No need to feel embarrassed, the fitter has seen it all before!

Know how your sleep bra should feel

As with any bra, it’s important to know how your bra should look and feel if it fits right. Knowing your size is just the first step. In a properly fitting bra, your breasts will sit comfortable inside the cups, the gore – the middle bit between the cups – will be flat to your chest and the band will sit comfortably when fastened on the second hook. Many night bras will pull on instead of fastening at the back and so the thing to look for is close fitting support that doesn’t dig in or leave red marks.

Choose the right material for your comfort

Most people will opt for a soft, comfortable cotton night bra. Breathable and easy to wash, cotton is practical while a little Lycra will give stretch where needed. A softer fabric is ideal as it’ll be sitting close to your skin. Itchy lace and embroidery should be avoided if it’s likely to cause you to fidget with discomfort.

Keep it simple

The simpler the design of your night bra the better. If you can find covered fastenings or indeed a bra without the standard hook-and-eye closure all the better. Many sleep bras will pull on over your head and have straps thatwon’t need adjusting. With no fastenings or adjusters there’s no niggly plastic or metal bits to push into your skin when you lay down.

Separation is key for a larger chest

If you have a large cup size, you may find that your boobs simply get in the way when you’re trying to find a good sleeping position. When sleeping on your back they may travel armpit-wards and when on your side they’ll mush together, hot and sore. A night bra with distinct cups, rather than a crop top-type design – provides the separation you’ll need for a better night’s sleep.

Night Bra or Not, Enjoy a Better Night’s Sleep with Bensons for Beds

However you sleep at night, whether tightly trussed up or loosey-goosey, being comfortable from lights out ‘til eyes open is an absolute must. And while we can’t deck you out in a new sleep bra, here at Bensons for Beds we can do plenty more to help you get the best sleep possible. From mattresses that can help to keep you cool when hormones are running riot to beds that provide support for those sore backs caused by larger busts, whatever’s keeping you up at night we can help you find a solution.

Our friendly teams use their own in-depth knowledge and smart technology, like our sleeppro® system, to find the perfect bed for a perfect night’s sleep. Visit us in store or call us on0808 144 6160 to get started.



Gemma Henry
Content Lead
Gemma finds sleep fascinating and describes the discovery aspect of her role as eye-opening. Her keen eye for detail and dedication to thorough research ensures that Bensons customers get the informative sleep-based advice they're looking for.
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