Many influential women, including Marilyn Monroe and Tyra Banks, have claimed that sleeping wearing a bra reduces sagging in the breasts. A compression sports bra would presumably be even more effective.
Unfortunately, scientists have widely debunked this theory.
Female breasts have no muscles, so it’s impossible to tone them with exercise or specialist garments like other body parts. Breasts sag with age as the ligaments lose elasticity.
Wearing a sports bra during high-intensity movement can prevent premature sagging in the breasts, reducing damage to the ligaments.
Sleeping in the bra keeps the breasts in place overnight but isn’t a permanent solution to avoid dropping.
You may struggle to get comfortable in bed wearing a tight garment. Also, prolonged use can damage the skin, reduce circulation, and slow the lymphatic system, causing a build-up of toxins.
Outside of cosmetic surgery, there’s no way to reduce the impact of age and gravity on the breasts.
Upon reaching the age of menopause, most women’s breasts will fall lower on the body, regardless of wearing a sports bra throughout the day and night.
Why Do Women’s Breasts Sag?
Oscar Wilde memorably claimed that “with age comes wisdom,” but the passage of time also brings unwelcome changes to the human body. For women, this may mean breasts starting to sag.
Female breasts don’t contain muscle, so they can’t be toned and strengthened like other body parts. Instead, the breasts comprise ligaments, fat, and connective tissue.
The more fat in this area, the larger the breasts.
No woman can fight gravity forever, and post-menopausal women with larger breasts are especially likely to experience sagging. The ligaments in the breasts become stretched and lose elasticity, particularly if BMI and body weight regularly fluctuate.
External factors, like smoking and sun exposure, can also reduce breast elasticity. Insufficient support from a poorly fitted or substandard bra is the main culprit for sagging breasts.
If your bra is too loose, it won’t provide enough lift to keep the breasts in position. A professionally fitted bra can reduce this risk, while wearing a sports bra will also be beneficial.
Will a Sports Bra Prevent Sagging Breasts?
Sports bras are for wear during physical motion, as this garment holds the breasts in position. Sports bras have thicker straps, a wider band across the back, and more coverage. They come in 3 forms:
- Compression sports bras push the breasts against the chest wall, reducing movement by over 80%. Most compression sports bras don’t have separate cups, instead covering the entire chest.
- Encapsulation sports bras have separate cups but offer little compression of movement. They may be suitable for low-impact activities like stretching, where an underwired bra may dig into the skin.
- Encapsulation-compression sports bras, as the name suggests, are a hybrid garment with dual-layered cups. The innermost layer will provide support, and the outer compresses the breasts.
It would be fair to assume that this firm grip on your breasts is enough to prevent sagging, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Exchanging a regular bra for a sports bra won’t reverse the aging process but can prevent premature sagging.
The more the breasts move during physical exertion, the more ligament damage they’ll endure.
Consider wearing a compression sports bra periodically, especially during intense movement and activity, to slow any inevitability surrounding sagging.
Is It Good to Sleep with a Sports Bra On at Night?
While opinion is divided about the merits of sleeping while wearing a sports bra, the benefit is that it’ll keep the breasts in place. Regular movement will further wear away and damage ligaments.
If you have larger breasts, you may welcome this restriction.
It can reduce pain and discomfort, but there’s no scientific evidence that it’ll prevent the breasts from drooping when released from the confines of a bra in the morning.
Sleeping with a sports bra is okay if you find it easier to rest this way and don’t experience the adverse side effects, but don’t expect it to be a miracle cure for the impact of advancing years.
Is Sleeping in a Sports Bra Better Than an Underwired Bra?
If you prefer to sleep in a bra of any type, the most important thing is that you are comfortable.
A sports bra won’t have underwires that could dig into your skin at night and is less likely to damage bedding or sheets, but a regular bra may be looser-fitting.
Ask yourself if you need to sleep in a bra. If the answer remains yes, consider what you value most.
A sports bra will keep the breasts confined and in place, more than a regular bra, but may take more time and effort to adjust.
Is It Bad to Sleep with A Sports Bra On?
There are no guarantees that wearing a sports bra overnight will prevent sagging in the breasts. You may be able to delay the process, but nature will eventually take its course anyway.
You’ll also need to ensure that you can get comfortable while wearing a sports bra in bed.
The tightness of these garments may make it difficult for you to feel relaxed enough to fall asleep and could leave you running a higher body temperature than usual.
Additional hazards to sleeping in a sports bra that must be taken under advisement include the following:
Some sports bra enthusiasts deny that wearing them reduces circulation, but anybody who has worn one for a prolonged period will beg to differ.
The Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics also stated that blood flow is decreased when pressure applied by the bra exceeds tolerance.
While you may build resistance to the sensation of wearing a sports bra, there will be a short-term impact.
If your circulation is poor while lying in bed, you’ll experience various side effects. Your arms, legs, hands, and feet may be numb upon waking, which can be dangerous during sleep inertia.
If you retain feeling, the impact of bad circulation is worse. You may experience tingling sensations or intense cramps and pulsing pains that provide a rude awakening.
Lying on your left side can improve circulation during sleep, as it’ll limit the pressure on the vessels that pump blood to and from the heart, but the constrictive qualities of a sports bra can’t be disregarded.
A reputable sports bra will have moisture-wicking properties, absorbing sweat from your body and keeping it off your skin. According to Fashion and Textiles, moisture remains within the bra.
Ordinarily, you can peel off a sports bra after an hour or two in the gym.
If you wear it overnight, the sports bra will gather moisture for at least 8 hours. While sleeping will be less intensive than exercise, the bra will still be damp and sticky.
You’ll need to wash a sports bra at least once daily or purchase a collection so there’s a different garment for each night of the week. If you also need sports bras during the day, you’ll need even more, as wearing the same sports bra for 24 hours won’t feel good.
If you wash your sports bra daily, it’ll wear out much sooner. On the other hand, leaving several damp sports bras in a wash basket waiting for laundry day may release a pungent smell.
The Physician and Sportsmedicine explains how athletes’ skin is at risk of damage due to regular friction and chafing caused by clothing, including sports bras.
This may still be a concern if you only sleep in a sports bra, eschewing a workout.
Chafing is caused by sweat mingling with natural salts generated by the body and becoming trapped within the lining of tight clothing.
If you run hot while you sleep, expect your skin to feel sore when you wake in the morning.
As a sports bra is tighter than the average undergarment, it can lead to folds in the skin. Upon waking, these can leave red marks under and around your breasts, increasing the risk of acne, sores, and calluses.
If you wear a sports bra in bed, choose an appropriate size that is not too restrictive and snug.
Upon removing the sports bra in the morning, ease your skin by allowing it to breathe and applying a moisturizing cream or body butter.
Impact on the Lymphatic System
Perhaps the most concerning hazard of wearing a sports bra overnight is the impact your underwear may have on your lymphatic system. This range of organs filters toxins from the body, preventing sickness.
While the lymphatic system includes the bone marrow and thymus, both responsible for releasing healthy blood cells into the body, the lymph nodes are most at risk when wearing a sports bra in bed.
Lymph nodes are found in multiple places on the body. A sports bra will not impact those in the groin, at the back of the head, side of the neck, under the jaw, or behind the ears.
Unfortunately, the lymph nodes under the armpits are at risk.
If a sports bra is too tight and worn for a prolonged time, blood won’t reach the lymph nodes at its usual rate and volume. This will slow down the work of the lymph nodes. The side effects include:
- Chronic fatigue.
- Musculoskeletal pain and stiffness.
- Weight gain caused by fluid retention.
Underperforming lymph nodes can cause the breasts to swell.
This will add to the weight of the breasts, making them increasingly likely to droop and sag. To this end, sleeping in an inappropriate sports bra may cause saggy breasts, not prevent them.
How Should I Sleep to Prevent Saggy Breasts?
Leaving aside the pros and cons of wearing a sports bra in bed, consider your sleeping posture and position if you are concerned about sagging breasts.
Changing this can be more effective than adjusting your choice of clothing.
If you sleep in the prone position, lying on your stomach and pushing your breasts into the mattress, you risk changing the shape of your breasts over time.
It won’t allow blood to flow appropriately, weakening ligaments faster.
Sleeping on your side is better, especially facing the left. Women with larger breasts may still struggle with this, as it means gravity will naturally pull the breasts to one side of the body.
Place a pillow under your bust to combat this outcome.
Sleeping on the back is considered the best position to reduce the risk of sagging breasts, as this will naturally push your breasts back toward your chest.
Alas, back sleeping can lead to other issues. Snoring is increasingly prevalent in menopausal women who sleep in the supine position, but you may consider this a price worth paying for firmer breasts.
There’s no scientific proof that wearing a sports bra to bed will prevent breasts from sagging, as the impact of doing so can do more harm than good.
Reserve these garments for high-intensity exercise and focus on sleeping posture to protect the breasts.