How To Pick A Pillow And How Naps Help Blood Pressure is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page.

This week was a ton of fun. I was honored to be asked to be on The Today Show for the first two days of Sleep Awareness Week. It was amazing! The premise of day one was sleep gadgets. I picked some sleep items for the show staff to use for several days and then they’d report back their experience. The Anchors were fantastic and followed my advice. The show was fantastic, you can watch it here.

Here is a great Instagram post from Carson Daly using Guava Leaf Tea with Raw Honey AND his Blue Light Blocking Glasses:

The second show was all about dreams, you can watch that one here.

Two fascinating articles I read on the plane flight home were:

Napping May Be As Good As Blood Pressure Medication For Lowering Your Blood Pressure

An article on Medical News Today reported that a research group from the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece conducted a study and found that taking a nap at midday can effectively help people lower their blood pressure levels.

“Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes. For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 [millimeters of mercury (mmHg)],” reports Dr. Kallistratos.

The article states:

According to guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a person has high blood pressure if their readings of systolic blood pressure (pressure during a heartbeat) are 140 mm Hg or higher, and their readings of diastolic blood pressure (pressure between heartbeats) are 90 mm Hg or higher.

The researchers found that people who took a daytime nap saw a 5.3 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, which, the researchers explain, is about as much as someone could expect when taking blood pressure medication or making certain lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure.

Each additional 60 minutes of napping time reduced average 24-hour systolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg. Dr. Kallistratos explains that taking low doses of specialized drugs can lower a person’s blood pressure levels by about 5–7 mm Hg on average.

“These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, by up to 10 percent,” says the researcher.


You all know I am a big fan of napping, and now we have even more reason to do it! If you have not read my other blog post on napping, you might not be aware that there are 9 different types of naps. Check it out and remember to bring your eye mask to work!

Does Presence Of A Psychiatric Disorder Affect Pain And Sleep?

In another article on Medpage Today researchers were curious to see if the relationship between sleep and pain was also affected by mental health issues.

Looking at this study researchers found that: The presence of a psychiatric disorder did not appear to influence relationships between pain and sleep

Sleep and pain were significantly correlated and their association was similar regardless of whether a patient had a psychiatric diagnosis, according to a poster presentation by Samir Sethi, MD, of George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and colleagues, at the 2019 American Academy of Pain Medicine meeting.

Insomnia is one of the most prevalent symptoms in the chronic pain population.  We know that pain and sleep are related but what we don’t know is what influences each, to affect each other. This study hypothesized that this relationship might be affected by issues of mental health, but they discovered that was simply not true.

As expected, the researchers found a statistically significant correlation between the Brief Pain Inventory and Insomnia Severity Index. Each one-point increase in average Brief Pain Inventory scores was associated with a 1.2 point rise in the Insomnia Severity Index.

When the pain-sleep relationship was compared with the presence or absence of an underlying psychiatric disorder, the outcome did not change: the pain-sleep association was similar regardless of psychiatric diagnosis.

If you want to learn more about this relationship check out this article.

The Question Of The Week

What is the best pillow for someone who sleeps in multiple positions? (asked by Hoda on the Today Show between segments).

Picking the right pillow is not an easy task. I wrote an article about it here, which will give you a much deeper understanding of how to choose pillows.

Traditionally, pillows have been rectangular and one of the challenges is getting your head to the middle of the pillow for good support if you sleep in multiple positions through the night. Pillows generally have either a knife edge, where the pieces of fabric are sewn together forming a sharp edge but getting enough filler to the edges is challenging so some manufacturers added a gusset. A gusset is a strip of cloth between the pillow edges creating a gap between two seams, giving a wider surface area at the edges allowing the filler to fill the edge space more fully. Both styles can work well when people sleep on their back but if they turn on their side, the shoulder pushes the pillow upward and the head is resting closer to the edge of the pillow, not the middle which can cause neck pain when the neck isn’t supported.

Recently a new design has come to the forefront called Curve. The curve allows your head to be supported by the belly, or the middle of the pillow whether you sleep on your side or your back.

I’ve moved away from the traditional rectangle pillow and now use The Curve.  It is my favorite pillow and the one I sleep on nightly because it is designed to support my head and neck whether I’m on my back or side and I can adjust it to fit me.

What I like so much about this design is that the curve hangs over your shoulder and your head gets to the middle of the pillow. Then you are getting your required neck support and don’t need to worry about neck pain disrupting your sleep.

Adjustability is also critical for a pillow to be able to fit you well. I recommend pillows that have a zipper where a person can remove the stuffing so that they can personalize the height of the pillow just for them. The pillow in the picture above actually has a zipper, which I showed on the Today Show and allows for this personalization nicely.

Check out the curve here, you’ll find the link to the pillow just below the video and you may find that it’s the perfect pillow for you.

The other thing to remember is that pillows wear out. You should change your pillows about every 18 months.

I hope by better understanding this new design along with the article about pillows helps you make the right decision for you. As is true of many things, a little knowledge goes a long way in making better decisions.

Here are a few other places I was able to contribute some sleep information that you may find interesting.

Trouble Sleeping? Your Mattress Might Be To Blame – Refinery29

Let Sleeping Dogs And Cats Lie – Toronto Sun

How Having Just Two Alcoholic Drinks Affects Your Sleep – Bustle

Sweet Dreams,
Dr. Breus

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Michael Breus, Ph.D - The Sleep Doctor is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and one of only 168 psychologists to pass the Sleep Medical Specialty Board without going to medical school. Dr. Breus is a sought after lecturer and his knowledge is shared daily in major national media worldwide including Today, Dr. Oz, Oprah, and for fourteen years as the sleep expert on WebMD. Dr. Breus is the bestselling author of The Power of When, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan and Good Night!

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