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It's a tale as old as time, but is it true? Mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers have been saying it forever: "wearing a bra to bed will keep your breasts from sagging." Breasts are considered "saggy" when the placement of the nipple is no longer parallel to the ground. But does sleeping in a bra really help prevent drooping and sagging of the breasts? In order to determine if sleeping in your bra at night really does affect the breast's skin and tissue, we need to look at all the factors of that contribute to the weakening and strengthening of breast tissue. I like to call them "the five E's."
Elasticity is the ability that skin has, to stretch and return to its original state. The skin that covers your breasts can swell when you gain weight or (more likely) have children. The breasts' ability to return to their original state is the contributing factor here. Hydration, miniaturization and blood flow are key to keeping your breasts elasticity at its maximum power. Breastfeeding can contribute to this, as the breasts swell and diminish in size throughout your breastfeeding journey, but it has not been proven to be a significant factor in the reduction of elastin in breast tissue. On average, the amount of time spent breastfeeding isn't enough to affect your breasts. The number of times you get pregnant can have a more significant impact on breast sagginess than the length of time you breastfeed.
Additionally, carcinogens in cigarette smoke cause elastin to break down elastin in the body. To help maintain your perky bosom, quit smoking!
Cool and even warm air affects the skin in different ways. In cold weather, your skin reacts by contracting the blood vessels to help you maintain your body temperature. In breasts, the nipples harden, and the skin around them crinkles and tightens. This plays a minor role in the depletion of elastin in the skin of the breasts. As usual, the sun plays a huge factor in your skin health; wearing moisturizers with sunscreen can help prevent sun damage.
Diet is another environmental factor that plays a big part in the health of your skin and breast tissue. Fresh fruits like peaches and plums are high in antioxidants which are said to promote healthy cell growth. Even coffee is said to be high in antioxidants and to help improve breast health. Supplements like N-acetylcysteine are meant to help promote good breast health. Vegetables such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are exceptionally healthy in phytochemicals which are often recommended for consumption by health experts.
Running, jumping and even lifting weights can strengthen breast tissue as well as weaken it. While activities like push-ups, chest presses, and even some yoga moves can improve the muscles around your breasts, running, walking and even biking can be detrimental if you're not wearing a good bra. Choosing the right sports bra is crucial to reducing breast pain during exercise. It's been reported that, on average, a woman's breasts move approximately twenty-one centimeters during rigorous training. Almost seventy-two percent of women experience breast pain during exercise and choosing the right bra can reduce your pain by sixty percent.
Age and genetics are a huge factor in the decrease of muscle in any area, not just breasts. Over time, gravity takes its toll on us all. Breasts are the most affected because they are so heavy and hang off your body. The ligaments stretch and lose elasticity. This change is most noticeable during menopause. The fullness of your breasts is lost as fatty tissue, and the ligaments are depleted.
Additionally, the lack of excellent support over twenty years or more can cause sagginess in breast tissue. It's critical that women get professionally fitted for a properly fitting bra. Poorly fitting bras have been associated with back, neck and shoulder pain as well as poor posture. Women, on average, change bra size about six times in their lifetime. Approximately eighty percent of women have been reported to be wearing poorly fitting bras.
Wearing a bra, whether during the day or at night is a relatively minor factor, considering all of the other things that people put on breasts. Water, especially hot water, can dry out your skin. Using soaps and moisturizers that contain harmful ingredients, like alcohols, halogenated salicylanilides, and other components that the FDA has deemed to be dangerous is just another way to further hasten your breasts trajectory for the ground by breaking down elastin.
Another new application is your arms, It seems weird to say that you'd put another body part on top of your breasts, but how often do you find yourself with your arms crossed, flattening your breasts and doing to yourself what you're trying so hard to prevent. This tugging motion does not affect the sagginess of your breasts any more than breastfeeding does, although posture is essential.
So, what sleeping positions are best for your breasts?
Sleeping positions can affect your breasts in different ways, but this is true whether you choose to wear a bra to bed or not.
Sleeping on your stomach, for example, presses on the top of your breasts, especially if you have large ones, and forces them toward your belly button. Unless you tuck them under your chin before bed, there's no escaping the severe side effects of sleeping on your tummy with big breasts. For smaller breasted women, this position may be beneficial because the breasts are resting right on the bed, no support needed.
Side sleeping, on the other hand, allows one of your breasts to rest peacefully while the other stretches toward the ground as the effects of gravity take hold, that is, if you're like the majority of women. If, however, you were blessed with small breast, your top breast likely lays atop the other, and both breasts are resting peacefully. If you like to sleep in this position, using a thin pillow may help alleviate pressure caused by strain on the top breast.
Sleeping on your back is the sleeping position most recommended by health experts and allows your breasts to pull back toward your ribcage and, depending on your size, your chin. It's even been reported that sleeping on your back can reduce everyday back pain caused by breast issues. Sleeping with a bra on in this position can help prevent them from falling to the sides, which is something you may want if you're big breasted. Look for a bra without a wire when shopping for bras to wear to bed.
Wearing a bra while snoozing, harmful or helpful?
While wearing a bra to bed can be more comfortable for some people, it does have a few downfalls.
Bra straps can be cumbersome, digging into your shoulders or constantly slipping off. There's nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night to pull your bra straps up or waking up in the morning to find bright red lines across your shoulders where your bra has cut off your circulation.
The bands around the base of the bra can be uncomfortable, especially if you have one that is ill-fitting. Sleeping in one can cause the bra to move up, digging into the breast tissue and cutting off circulation as well as restricting lymphatic flow. There are bras made specifically for sleeping that have a loose construction and minimal support while giving full coverage.
This isn't to say that wearing a bra to bed is all wrong; there are a few benefits that wearing a bra to bed can help. If you've had reconstructive surgery, for example, you might need the extra support that a bra can offer. In this case, consult your physician for the best options. If you prefer to wear one for modesty's sake, wearing one without any form or wire can give the benefits of "free balling" with the coverage you desire so that if your house catches fire, the firemen don't see you in your skivvies.
No scientific evidence states that wearing a bra to bed can prevent sagging.
Most studies state that wearing a bra to bed is more harmful than helpful. The benefits of freeing them far outweigh the benefits of keeping them trapped in their fabric prisons. If you must wear a bra to bed, wear one that offers minimal coverage. Get fitted, more than once in a lifetime, for both a sports bra as well as a regular one. Department stores often offer bra fitting services, and there are even many excellent guides online to help you choose the right fitting bra.
In conclusion, If you want to keep your breasts perky, stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, and moisturize regularly. Only wear a bra to bed if it makes you feel comfortable. There is very little chance of them stretching and becoming misshapen at night.