Can wearing a bra in bed keep your chest looking youthful? An aesthetic doctor and a breast surgeon share their views
We all know that glorious end of the day ‘bra off, hair up’ feeling, but abandoning our bras of an evening, especially when it comes to bedtime, could be causing our chest and neck to age prematurely, according to aesthetician Dr Sophie Shotter of the Illuminate Skin Clinic in Kent, who advises her clients to sleep in a bra to maintain a youthful neck. “When we don’t wear a bra our breasts are subject to gravity,” she says. “This means that as we sleep our breasts will be pulled around in different directions which causes the skin on our chest to fold and crease and eventually these lines will become etched into your skin.
“Wearing a soft bra to bed can be preventative of ageing and sagging,” Dr Sophie told us. “I’m not talking about the type of bra you might wear in the daytime, but a soft bra or nightwear with a bra built-in.” According to Dr Sophie there are several reasons we should be wearing a bra to bed.
1. You’re a side sleeper
“Sleeping on our side and pushing our chest into the mattress causes it to fold and crease and eventually these lines will become etched into your skin,” Dr Sophie says. By wearing a bra at night if you do sleep on your side, your bust will be supported and you’ll notice that your décolletage ages better, she continues.
2. You sleep on your back
People who sleep on their back aren’t immune from chest creasing either, as Dr Sophie points out: “If you’re a back sleeper, your breasts will be pulled out and down. “
3. You have large breasts
This is a personal choice, but if you have larger breasts wearing a bra at night can help avoid discomfort. “There aren’t any health benefits to wearing a bra at night, beyond minimising any discomfort that some women with larger breasts feel when not wearing a bra,” says Dr Sophie.
4. You’re due on your period
Having tender, sore breasts is a common symptom of your period and some women find it comfortable to wear a soft bra at night around this time to keep them protected.
5. You’ve just had breast surgery
Wearing a bra at night is one of the best ways to get longevity from surgical procedures on your breasts, according to Dr Sophie. “The lift will last longer if you support the breasts at night,” she says.
Breast surgeon Dr Veerle Rotsaert, co-founder of aesthetic clinic Tempus Belgravaia, is sceptical of the anti-ageing benefits of wearing a bra to bed but does agree that post-surgery it’s essential to wear something supportive, telling us. “There’s no reason to wear a bra at night, but I always recommend surgical bras post-surgery for better longevity of breast implant results, but that is basically the only time I ever actively recommend wearing a bra at night.”
6. You’re breastfeeding
Having said that, Dr Veerle does also point out that when you’re breastfeeding it can be certainly necessary to wear a bra with breast pads in at night to prevent leakage.
What to look for in a sleep bra
Your sleep bra should be well-fitting. Even if by day you rock an Agent Provocateur number without fail, sleep bras should be more understated. “Your sleep bra should be a well-fitting bra,” says Dr Sophie. “Don’t wear one that is too tight or you could restrict blood supply or lymphatic drainage. The bra shouldn’t leave indents. Personally, I think a soft bra is the perfect choice or even nightwear with an inbuilt soft bra.”
The best sleep bras to buy now
Best sleep bra for comfort: M&S Flexifit Non-Wired Sleep Bra, £11.20
M&S has hardly been able to keep this in stock (it sold out in two days when it first launched earlier this year) but has been replenishing stock frequently, so keep your eyes peeled. At the time of writing it was available in grey in sizes ten, and 12 and 14 in navy. Why such a fuss over it? It’s made from an ultra-soft breathable fabric that moves with you plus an invisible internal frame that supports your breasts.
Best sleep bra for bigger busts: Bravissimo Sleep Bra, £32
Lightly padded with seam-free cups, this is available in a DD cup upwards and is designed to ensure big busts feel secure whether you’re sleeping or lounging. There’s also a non-padded version, £34, if you prefer.
Best sleep bra for breast-feeding: Bravissimo Nursing Sleep Bra, £34
This sleep bra for breast-feeding has drop-down cups so you can easily feed your baby during the night feeds. It’s made from a soft jersey fabric (no rubbing on sore nipples) plus it has padded straps to keep it comfy.
Best lightweight sleep bra: Sloggi Zero Feel Crop Top, £28
You’ll barely notice you’re wearing this Sloggi sleep bra. It’s entirely seam-free for the ultimate comfort, plus it has wide straps so there’s no digging in. It comes in black, lilac and nude – take your pick.
Best triangle sleep bra: Intimissi Lara Natural Cotton Triangle Bra, £25
If you find crop top shape bras restrictive, this triangle offering from Italian brand Intimissi is a good bet. It’s super soft and has a criss-cross back if you love it so much you want to wear it during the day too.
Best multi-pack sleep bra: Next Crop Top three-pack, £24
Loved by GTG’s digital writer Melanie, who recommended them to a pregnant friend who swears by them now too, these are no-nonsense basic crop tops that work perfectly as sleep bras. Pair with the matching knickers to feel coordinated and cool. We recommend sizing up for extra comfort.
MORE GLOSS: Are there health benefits to abandoning your bra?