It’s a practice that can be traced back to a number of our biggest idols and style icons. Marilyn Monroe herself reportedly slept with a bra on every single night in order to prevent her breasts from sagging.

Meanwhile, there are reports that doing so may actually have the opposite impact, causing sagging, loss of perkiness or a change to the overall shape. So, we are left wondering – What is the truth? Should we be wearing our bra to bed each night, or can we ditch the uncomfortable contraption for a night of comfortable sleep without sacrificing the condition of our breasts?

Today, a number of researchers and health care professionals are actually speaking up, telling ladies to lose the bra at bedtime. In fact, Dr. Seth Rankin, founder of the London Doctor’s Clinic is warning women everywhere that sleeping with your bra on may actually be bad for your health!

No Impact On Sagging

Despite the great debate, with many people vehemently arguing for or against the use of bras to avoid sagging, Rankin told Cosmopolitan that is actually doesn’t have any real impact at all. “Let’s think about this from a scientific point of view. Sagging is caused by the downward pull of gravity on the mass of your breasts. That’s why bigger breasts sag more, as there’s more fat within the tissue for gravity to work on. When you’re lying down flat, the effect of gravity pushes the breast tissue back towards your chest, instead of down towards your toes.” he explained. “So, wearing a bra (the purpose of which is ultimately to support breasts from below) is essentially redundant in bed, as breasts naturally compress back down onto the chest.” If you have been wearing your bra to bed on a nightly basis solely for the purpose of avoiding sagging, consider yourself freed from that burden. If it’s not going to make a difference, then free yourself and enjoy a good night sleep without the extra layers – especially as the summer heat sets in!

It May Actually Negative Impact Breast Appearance and Health

Let’s take this a step further – Not only will wearing a bra not avoid breast sagging, but experts are warning that it may actually have a negative impact on the overall appearance and health of your breasts. “With regard to the breast tissue itself: if your bra often leaves impressions in your skin from being too tight, then wearing it 24/7 won’t give the skin a chance to recover and bounce back from these, leading to long-term indents in the tissue.” Rankin went on to warn. “Then aside from the breasts themselves, there’s a lot going on by way of important anatomy around the chest area: from muscles to vessels, lymph nodes to nerves. If your bra is too tight, you may be restricting your blood supply to the breasts and surrounding areas. The same goes for the lymphatic system: a tight bra may restrict the flow of lymph to the many important lymph nodes around the breast and armpit, hindering the system’s vital function of flushing toxic waste-products from the body.”

Other experts warn that wearing bra 24/7 may cause you to develop excess sweat, as the bra is restricting the airflow around the breasts due to a combination of additional material and padding behind held so closely to the skin. This additional sweat can cause discomfort and itching, leading, potentially, to the development of rashes, acne and other skin conditions. Furthermore, the improper drainage from the lymphs, as noted by Rankin, can lead to the development of cysts and noncancerous or benign lumps of tissue. This is particularly true if you are wearing a bra that is improperly fit or contains an underwire.  While these may not have a serious health concern, imagine the anxiety levels and impact to your mental and emotional health in finding a lump and having to go through the process of discovering whether or not it is cancerous. By shedding your bra at night and allowing your breasts access to proper airflow, you can reduce your chances of having to deal with this frightening experience.

Poor Night’s Sleep

Finally, focusing on the bigger picture rather than just your breasts, you may actually be impacting your ability to get a good night’s sleep. If you are wearing a bra that is tight-fitting, with underwire that may dig in if you turn the wrong way, or if the straps dig into your shoulders at all this will obviously prevent you from getting comfortable or may wake you up throughout the night if you happen to roll over or move at all. Picture rolling slightly sideways while in a deep sleep only to cause your underwire to suddenly stab into you – that’s certainly not going to allow you to remain comfortably asleep for long! This is also true of the irritation and itching from the lack of airflow and build-up of excess sweat.

Instead, experts recommend sleeping in a looser fitting shirt or camisole. If you do need to wear a bra to bed, as there are some situations in which women have highly sensitive or sore breasts and can benefit from the additional support and care as well as women with larger chests that do find it more comfortable to have the additional support, then you should select a soft, comfortable bra without an underwire. If you can, find something that is thinner and fabricated in a way to promote additional airflow. Many women find that sports bras are great for this purpose, as they are designed to handle high sweat situations.

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