Most women would agree that the best bra is no bra, but some people believe that wearing a bra while sleeping can prevent your breasts from sagging as you age. Although there is no real science to prove this, there may be times when you need to wear a bra for bed, or you just prefer to.
Of course, the best bra for sleeping would be as comfortable as possible— no wires, no padding, no clasps, and loose fitting, while also providing shape and coverage. Because of this, most sleep bras are similar to maternity/nursing bras or sports bras without all of the compression.
Quick Look at Our Top 5 Picks
Sleep Bras— Key Considerations
Why Wear One: There’s good reason for why women prefer to sleep braless: that’s what’s most comfortable. So why wear one? There are a few different reasons: you simply prefer to, you are trying to prevent breast sagging, you have recently had surgery, or you are in a situation where there will be other people around when you’re sleeping.
Some women, especially those with larger busts, find that sleeping without a bra is uncomfortable because their breasts can get in the way of certain sleeping positions, which could even be painful, so they prefer to wear a bra to bed. Other women believe that wearing a bra at all times can combat the natural aging, and subsequent sagging, of their breasts (more on that later). There is another group of women that need to wear a bra to sleep because it aids in their recovery from surgery, whether it was a breast reduction surgery, a breast enlargement surgery, a single or double mastectomy, or a reconstruction surgery.
The last group of women who seek sleep bras are those that need to be somewhat modest while lounging or sleeping. There are several situations where this could be the case. For instance, you may have overnight guests that you don’t want to expose yourself to, or maybe you are taking a trip where you will be sharing a hotel room with other people.
Chest Size: Chest size is usually the first factor that comes to mind when looking to purchase a bra. Women know that certain bras just don’t work with certain chest sizes; for example, big-chested ladies cannot wear bras with straps that are unable hold the weight of their breasts because they will have back pain, and small-chested ladies could have trouble finding a bra that has small cups and a strap that isn’t too tight around their ribs. But since sleep bras are intended to be less supportive and less about looks than everyday bras, they can be adapted to any body.
Sleep bras typically have a simple, modest design, which allows them to keep any size breasts in their rightful place. Even though sleep bras all seem to be very similar to each other, there are variations that address the differences in bust size. Usually sleep bras for large chests have strong, wide bands, lots of stretch in the cups and bottom band, and possibly some clasps that can make it easy to get on and off. Sleep bras for smaller chests don’t need much support, and probably don’t have clasps, but they should still be very stretchy to maintain comfort.
Keep in mind that many sleep bras are labeled as sports bras, and they tend to run small because the compression gives more support during periods of activity. But if you are using the bra for lounging or sleeping, it is best to size up to ensure that the bra is not too tight when you are trying to relax. Similarly, sleep bras, whether they are labeled as sports bras or nursing bras, are prone to shrinking. This provides another reason for why you may want to size up when you are purchasing a bra you will use for sleep.
Comfort: Just because you can wear regular bras to sleep and lounge, doesn’t mean they will be comfortable, and if you’re looking for a sleep bra, comfort is the number one priority. There are several features of a bra that can determine how comfortable it is, including fabric type, clasps, how it goes on and comes off, underwires, and bands/straps.
Although sleep bras don’t vary as much as regular bras, there are differences between them that could be more or less comfortable to you. First, many sleep bras are made from cotton, spandex, nylon, or polyester, and could have satin-like trim. Some of these fabrics may be more comfortable to sleep in than others, especially cotton, which is usually the softest.
Next is the bra’s closure. A large amount of the sleep bras available have no clasps because clasps are known to dig into the body, no matter where they are located, which obviously goes against the comfort of the bra. However, there are some clasps that are placed in just the right spot or are padded well enough that they do not cause discomfort, which is why they are included in some sleep bras. In addition, clasps are directly related to how the bra goes on and comes off. Usually, clasps make it much easier to put the bra on and take it off, whereas putting on a pull-over bra can turn into a wrestling match. Instead, some women step into a bra without clasps and pull it up to their chest.
Similarly, almost no sleep bras have underwires. Although underwires are common in regular bras, they are very uncomfortable for sleeping and lounging for the same reasons clasps are. Underwires are known to poke you in the sides or the center of your chest, and can even come through the fabric, which could be dangerous. All of this proves that their place is not in sleep bras.
Lastly, the bottom band and shoulder straps of the sleep bra can make a big impact on comfortability. The goal is to find a bottom band that fits the circumference of your upper abdomen in a way that’s not too tight that you can’t breathe but not too loose that you lose some of the support and shape of the bra either. In the same way, the shoulder straps should be able to support the weight of your breasts without digging in to your shoulders and causing pain and discomfort.
What Are the Top Seven Sleep Bras?
Here is a summary of the top seven sleep bras, each offering a unique combination of desirable features. All of these products are highly rated, and sleep tested.
The Science Behind Sleep Bras
As mentioned earlier, some women believe that wearing a bra while sleeping can maintain the youthful look of your breasts and prevent the natural sagging that comes with aging. This idea has been popularized by our society, but in the distant past, women believed the opposite: sleeping with a bra would make the sagging worse as you age. So, it begs the question, which of these theories is true, if any of them?
The answer to that question isn’t so simple. All breasts will sag as aging occurs; it’s inevitable because the tissue that holds breasts in place gradually loses its strength and elasticity over the course of a woman’s life. Plus, there are many factors that contribute to breast sagging, including pregnancy and nursing, family history, smoking, weight loss/gain, and activity level, all of which can add up to more sagging than a bra can prevent. In addition, sagging only occurs as a result of gravity pulling breasts downward, so when you are lying down asleep, no gravity is pulling on your breasts, so a bra is almost redundant.
One last point is that a bra that is too tight can be harmful. Because the chest area contains important pieces of our anatomy, a bra that is too tight could restrict blood supply and even hinder the function of the lymphatic system, which could become less effective in clearing toxins from the body. All of this proves that bras, specifically when worn while sleeping, do not prevent sagging and have no real medical benefit. But, sleep bras are still useful for the other reasons listed above, and when they fit correctly.
Sleep Bras— Final Thoughts
When you are searching for a sleep bra, comfort is key, and part of comfort is finding a bra that has the right fit, support, and coverage. Although many sleep bras are categorized as sports bras or nursing bras, any bra that provides the comfort and function you are looking for is the perfect sleep bra for you.