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To sleep in a bra, or not to sleep in a bra – that’s the question that never fails to divide a room full of adult women.
Recently, actress Halle Berry weighed in on the debate, revealing she has worn a bra “around the clock” since her boobs first started developing, based on her mum’s advice.
“My mother told me that if you don’t want them to start sagging too early, always wear a bra. I’ve done that my whole life and they are pretty good today because of that,” the 48-year-old tells Vogue. “If you are going to sleep in them and wear them, and take them off just to wash them, I think you have to wear something really comfortable.”
While some ladies, like Halle, prefer to keep their bosoms supported even at rest, others are vehemently against the idea of going to bed all strapped in. For some, it's a matter of comfort - they find bras cut in and feel weird as they roll over in bed. Others are worried about stretching the straps overnight.
However, women often choose not to sleep in their brassieres due to health concerns. Type 'should I sleep in a bra' into Google and you'll be presented with pages of results claiming the practise can affect circulation, lymph nodes, the body's sleep hormones and skin pigmentation, among other things. It's even been suggested that over time, sleeping in a bra can impact on the ability of a mammogram to see the whole breast because it changes the physical shape.
Reading all that is enough to make you want to chuck out all your lingerie, but according to Sunrise GP, Dr Ginni Mansberg, these concerns are unfounded.
"It's one of those those myths that won't die - that wearing a bra to bed is really bad and that it weakens and sags your breasts and stops the blood flowing and increases toxins in the breast and causes cancer," Dr Mansberg explains. "What we don't have is any evidence of anything- good, bad, ugly, negative, positive - but on a logical level, it just doesn't make sense that wearing a bra would do anything bad."
The only potential health consequence of wearing a bra to bed, she says, would be wearing a bra that was too tight and impacted on breathing - which would be a bad thing regardless of whether you're asleep or awake, obviously.
As for the claim that bras can cause muscle buildup in the breast, Dr Mansberg says this is untrue simply because there is no muscle there. "There is no muscle in your breast. There's muscle on the chest wall that sits under your breast. It's skin that overlies a combination of fat and glandular breast tissue. Neither of those are affected by being covered up or having the skin covered up," she says.
Dr Mansberg says the bra decision should come down to what feels most comfortable for you and your boobs. For women with smaller breasts, going bra-free probably feels better. But for women with large breasts, pregnant women and women in their 40s and older, a little extra support might be appreciated. "Sometimes having them in to your chest a little closer and not flopping around so much when you roll over will at least be a little more comfortable," Dr Mansberg says.
"If you want to go to bed looking like a Playboy centrefold in your sexy balconette lacy with nipple cut-outs, you go for it. That's all good with me. Your inner Dolly Parton is safe."
Hurrah! One less thing to freak out about.
Do you sleep in a bra or do you prefer to let your boobs run (well... lie) free?
Click through this gallery to see which bras we reckon would be most sleep-friendly:
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