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The traditional Japanese Sobakawa pillow, made with buckwheat hulls, has become quite popular in the United States. In case you’re wondering, buckwheat hulls are the outer casings of buckwheat kernels. Pillows filled with buckwheat hulls offer a wide range of benefits; they are firm but flexible enough to conform to the neck, head, and shoulders closely. This helps all types of sleepers in aligning the spine to relieve many of the aches and pains people often wake up with.
You can adjust the pillow’s thickness and firmness to your liking by adding or removing hulls. And what’s more, buckwheat pillows also provide comfortable airflow and temperature for a good night’s sleep. They usually come with organic cotton covers, which makes them an eco-friendly and all-natural alternative to foam or feather pillows.
This article will reveal our picks for the best buckwheat pillows currently on the market. In doing so, we will tell you all you need to know about these Japanese pillows so that you can choose the one that can best meet your needs.
The Best Buckwheat Pillows
Table of Contents
The Best Buckwheat Pillows Comparison Table
- Zipper allows to add or remove the filling
- 100% organic cotton cover
- Lightweight and compact
- Unbleached 100% cotton cover
- Cylindrical shape
- Cover materials are blended to keep you cool
The Best Buckwheat Pillows Reviews
ComfySleep: overall best buckwheat pillow
ComfySleep is filled with organically grown buckwheat hulls that have been thoroughly cleaned with pressurized air to remove all dirt and dust. The soft and durable cover is made of 100% organic cotton that has been milled in Texas. Since no chemicals are used to produce the hulls or cotton, the product has no irritating chemical smell and will not cause any type of allergic reaction. This handmade buckwheat hull pillow is manufactured in the USA.
ComfySleep comes in 4 different sizes that you can choose from Standard, Traditional, Classic, and Classic Plus, which are smaller than regular down-filled or feather-filled pillows. However, you are given 1 lb. of additional buckwheat so that you can adjust the thickness. A hidden zipper allows you to easily add or remove the filling to get the softness and support that is most comfortable for you.
Buckwheat hulls are strong and durable so you can expect the product to last as long as ten years. While this option does cost a bit more than its counterparts, it offers the highest quality. With the perfect amount of support from this buckwheat pillow, you won’t wake up with morning neck pain and stiffness. It is, overall, a great investment in the future.
Natures Pillows: the most affordable buckwheat pillow
Natures Pillows’ Sobakawa is filled with buckwheat hulls and has a 100% organic cotton cover, which is nice and soft. This odorless buckwheat pillow is made in the U.S. of all-natural materials with no additives.
The Sobakawa comes in a Standard 12” x 19” size, which is about 2/3 the size of a regular-sized pillow and works well for travel. It also comes in a 20” x 29” Jumbo size, which is about the same as a Queen size.
To make the Sobakawa affordable, there is no zipper opening so you can’t adjust the size by adding or removing the hulls, which is probably why this product gets mixed reviews. But, the Sobakawa does support the cervical spine really well, which is necessary for a good night’s sleep.
To keep it clean, you would need to cut open a seam to remove and wash the cotton cover since the pillow comes without a zipper. However, it would make more sense to keep the entire pillow inside a washable pillowcase.
All in all, we believe the Sobakawa is well worth the investment, and here’s why:
- You can use this buckwheat hull pillow in a number of different ways. You will get the helpful information sheet that describes the Sobakawa’s versatility. In addition to sleeping with the pillow, you can use it for added comfort while driving, stretching, doing yoga, or just relaxing with a book.
- It is firm enough to support your head and neck while conforming to your shape and naturally aligning your body.
- The affordable price means this option would not be a risky purchase for most. We consider this to be the best buckwheat pillow for the price.
T2pillows: the best buckwheat pillow for travel
Buckwheat pillows are perfect for travelers, especially for people who get headaches and neck pain from airplane seats. Unfortunately, most of them are just too bulky and heavy to fit in a suitcase.
T2pillows have solved this problem by creating its buckwheat travel pillow. It measures just 10” x 16,” weighs 1.5 lbs and also comes with a cable tie so you can easily attach it to the outside of your suitcase. Being much smaller than a standard-sized pillow, it also works well as a support for yoga postures.
T2pillows is softer than most other options, which some people like while others prefer something firmer. The company is aware of this complaint and will send any dissatisfied customer additional buckwheat hulls upon request. The pillow is made with an inner zippered pouch that allows you to add more filling to make it fuller and firmer. This travel pillow is also easy to keep clean because an outer organic cotton cover can be removed and machine washed.
Since buckwheat hulls are 100% natural, this product makes a great choice for eco-conscious shoppers who prefer sustainable products. T2pillows also offers customers a 60-day return policy, which includes a full refund.
Beans72: the largest size selection buckwheat pillow
If you expect to have a good night’s sleep, you need to be comfortable and finding the right pillow size is essential. Unfortunately, not all brands have a decent selection of sizes; in fact, most don’t. Beans72 is the rare exception because they offer five different size options:
King: 20” x 36”
Queen: 20” x 30”
Twin/Standard: 20” x 26”
Japanese: 14” x 20”
Travel/Child: 11” x 16”
Each pillow is filled with 100% organic buckwheat hulls, grown in the U.S. and has an unbleached 100% cotton cover. People who tend to get hot during the night would definitely benefit from the breathability of the cotton cover as well as the pillow’s adjustable loft. You can always buy buckwheat hulls in bulk from Beans72 if you want to increase the thickness or loft of the pillow.
Beans72 is recommended for relieving typical sleeping problems like; muscle tension and pain, stiff neck, stress, and headaches. In addition to Beans72 standard buckwheat pillows, you can also get an aromatherapy pillow containing a combination of crushed lavender and buckwheat hulls.
These pillows tend to be priced lower than similar models from other brands, which makes them a bargain. Better yet, Beans72 offers a rare 30-night sleep trial. If you’re not satisfied with your product for any reason, you can return it within that timeframe for a full refund.
Sachi Organics: the best neck roll buckwheat pillow
This high-end buckwheat pillow consistently conforms to the shape of your head, neck, and shoulders to relieve aches and pains while preventing new pressure points from forming. Sachi Organics provides the firm support and additional pressure relief due to its special cylindrical shape. The pillow elevates the head while cradling the neck, which is great for people who suffer from chronic discomfort in the cervical area.
You can use it as a regular pillow for your bed or while you read or watch TV. The product can also be used as a leg or knee support and taken on the road due to its smaller size.
The Sachi Organics neck roll buckwheat pillow has a soft, breathable cover made of organic cotton that keeps sleepers fairly cool throughout the night. In line with the company’s name, everything about this pillow is organic, including the U.S. grown buckwheat hulls. Each pillow has a zippered opening that allows users to adjust the loft and thickness by adding or removing the hulls. Sachi Organics offers a 30-day return period for all buckwheat pillows.
PineTales: the best cooling buckwheat pillow
Most buckwheat pillows tend to sleep cool due to the increased air circulation and breathable cotton covers, and PineTales is no exception. Its cover is made of a blend of cotton and rayon bamboo fabric. While rayon is a synthetic material, rayon fabric made of bamboo is light and breathable. This enhances the cooling qualities of cotton. Because the covers are waterproof, they can also wick away perspiration when temperatures go up. Furthermore, PineTales only uses materials that are both hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant.
Filled with 100% organic buckwheat hulls, PineTales is completely adjustable. The machine-washable inner cover and bamboo outer cover both come with zippered openings. This buckwheat pillow works well for any sleeping position and especially for people with neck pain or spine problems. It may also eliminate posture induced headache.
PineTales also offers pillows that contain:
- crushed lavender added to the buckwheat hulls for sleepers who also want the benefits of aromatherapy
- a combination of buckwheat hulls and shredded memory foam added to provide pressure relief
Each pillow has one inner shell filled with 100% organic buckwheat hulls and one bamboo fabric outer cover and backed by a PineTales 30-day trial with free returns.
Buckwheat Pillows Buyer's Guide
Introduction to a Buckwheat Pillow
What is buckwheat, and why is it being used in pillows? Buckwheat is a common farm plant grown for its seeds, which are commonly used in animal feed. Buckwheat seeds in powdered form are also used for making bread. However, the seeds are not used in buckwheat pillows rather the hulls or the thin hard outer shell surrounding the grain. Buckwheat hulls are cup-shaped with a triangular brown casing.
Buckwheat pillows are filled with tens of thousands of buckwheat seed hulls, which contour to the shape of your head, neck, and shoulders to properly align the spine throughout the night. They are sufficiently firm with enough softness to be comfortable. Widely used in Asian cultures to reduce anxiety and stress, these natural Japanese pillows can be a part of the overall treatment of body and mind as one.
These are the commonly available sizes for buckwheat pillows:
King: A King-sized pillow measures 20" x 36", which is 10" longer than the Standard size. This offers sufficient space for people who switch positions throughout the night. King-sized pillows also work well as suitable backrests for those who sit up while watching TV or reading in bed.
Queen: A Queen-sized pillow measures 20" x 30", which is 4" longer than the Standard size. It's perfect for people who find a standard pillow too small or for those who tend to move around a lot while sleeping.
Standard: A Standard-sized pillow measures 20" x 26", which is the smallest non-specialty size. This is the most popular and the least expensive size as well.
Specialty Sizes: Some brands offer smaller sizes, which are more in line with the smaller people who populate the countries where buckwheat pillows are most widely used, like South Korea and Japan. For example, Beans72 offers 5 different size options, which include a Travel/Child size that measures 11" x 16" and a Japanese size that measures 14" x 20". Both of these are smaller than Standard, Queen, or King sizes, which they also sell.
Benefits of a Buckwheat Pillow
Thousands of users have reported that consistently sleeping with a buckwheat pillow provides them with a good night's rest as well as pain relief. Everyone is different, but this natural sleeping solution has certainly been the answer for many.
Foam pillows are far from being great for the environment. They're difficult to dispose of, and the chemicals used in their manufacturing process are heavy pollutants. Now that you know this, you will likely want to get an environmentally friendly option, which is exactly what a buckwheat hull pillow is. In fact, most of them are made with organically sourced buckwheat hulls, which means you will not be exposed to any toxic chemicals or pesticides when using one. Nearly all manufacturers also use 100% cotton or some other organic fabric for the casings, which makes them a possible vegan choice as well.
The best buckwheat pillows are adjustable, meaning you can add or remove hulls to fit your comfort needs. No two bodies are made exactly the same, so an adjustable option is essential if you want your head and neck to be properly aligned and to accommodate your sleep position. Side sleepers typically need a higher loft, whereas back and stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow. In fact, stomach sleepers need hardly any lift at all, so the ability to remove hulls is particularly important for them. This is why adjustable models are the most popular, but not all brands offer this option.
Durable & Long Lasting
The average buckwheat pillow can last as long as 10 years with proper care. However, this would largely depend on the quality of the product. Solidly sewn seams along with heavy-duty zippers can go a long way towards keeping the hulls inside. Over time, the hulls themselves can start wearing down; however, adjustable models can be easily refreshed by adding new hulls (which can be purchased from the brands that sell buckwheat pillows).
Hypoallergenic & Dust Mite Resistant
Buckwheat pillows contain no food sources whatsoever, which means they do not attract bugs and insects, nor do they create the kind of environment prone to allergens. For these reasons buckwheat hull pillows are considered hypoallergenic as well as dust mite resistant. There are very few reports of true buckwheat allergies. However, if you are extremely sensitive to certain plants, especially those used to feed animals, it would be best to speak to your doctor.
May Relieve Migraine Headaches
Many studies have been done behind the causes of migraine headaches. Most have focused on spinal alignment, pressure and pain points, airway support, and soft tissue strain. While the causes may vary, many people have reported a reduction in the number of migraines and less pain when they've slept with a buckwheat pillow.
Promotes Airflow & a Cool Night's Sleep
Buckwheat hulls are smooth, triangular in shape, with a slightly cupped center, which creates a tiny air pocket between them. With tens of thousands of hulls filling a pillow, you have excellent airflow, which means a cool night's sleep. The hulls themselves do not compress, do not get warm or hold heat, so this is really an ideal filling for anyone who sleeps hot.
Neck and back pain (not associated with injury or illness) is primarily caused by poor sleep posture. Furthermore, the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support your head, neck, and spine can become fatigued during the night and try to compensate for one another, resulting in tenderness and pain. Unless you have the proper support, this can cause sleeplessness, neck pain, headaches, and more.
A high-quality buckwheat hull pillow can support your head and neck while you sleep, keep your spine correctly aligned and allow true muscle relaxation.
People often snore due to poor sleep posture. Your neck muscles might be unable to relax during the night because your head is resting too high, or falls back too far. These issues can lead to blocked airways, which in turn can cause snoring. Your airway is naturally aligned with your cervical spine, so you need to keep this alignment intact when sleeping to keep your airway open. While a buckwheat pillow cannot keep everyone from snoring, especially if you snore due to sleep apnea, it can improve your sleep posture so that your airways remain open. However, if you snore no matter which position you sleep in, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about a possible underlying cause.
The reason these natural Japanese pillows are so popular is that they support good sleep posture and proper spinal alignment for all types of sleepers. People who sleep on their stomach or back benefit from a thin pillow that holds their head evenly between their shoulders, and also provides support to the gap created by the arch of their neck. Side sleepers benefit from having their head held high evenly between their shoulders with a pillow that has sufficient filling to support the neck area. A buckwheat hull pillow is flexible while still being firm enough to comfortably contour to the shape of the head, neck, and shoulders. This supports proper cervical alignment so that the body can relax more easily for a deeper, more restful sleep.
Drawbacks of a Buckwheat Pillow
There are hardly any drawbacks when it comes to buckwheat pillows. The worst issue you may have is a poor-quality pillow that doesn't last very long. You can easily avoid that by researching the brand and its products. However, there are some things you may want to consider before making a purchase because buckwheat hull pillows do not follow a conventional design. Plus, they are rarely found in retail stores so you would likely have to place your order online.
Buckwheat pillows can weigh up to 12 lbs. and that's a lot for a pillow. They are also not ideal for propping up to lean against while watching TV because gravity will pull the hulls down to the bottom. And as far as pillow fights go, they are just too heavy to throw around like that.
You cannot wash buckwheat. Although the hulls will not absorb the water, it will weaken them so your pillow will lose its durability. Plus, buckwheat pillows are quite heavy and will probably throw your washer out of balance permanently. However, the removable covers are washable and should be regularly cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions.
A Little Noisy
When you first lay your head down on a buckwheat hull pillow, you will hear a little rustling noise. It's very slight, and most people get used to this crunching sound over time. In the meantime, it may be a little distracting. Since the pillow holds your head in place, you really shouldn't notice the noise once you've settled in. However, if you're a restless sleeper who moves around a lot, that's different. The good news is that you can easily shape a buckwheat pillow to support your head, neck, and shoulders comfortably, so you should be able to get to sleep fairly quickly.
Natural Earthy Odor
Buckwheat does smell. It has a natural, earthy odor that many people find aromatic and somewhat calming. Depending on how the product is packaged, you may find it a little strong when you first open the box. Or, you may not notice any smell at all if the hulls have been roasted. Some people do not like the smell, but fortunately, it dissipates quickly. Until then, you can add dried lavender or other herbs to make your buckwheat pillow more aromatic.
Takes Time to Adapt To
You've likely spent your lifetime sleeping on pillows filled with feathers, fibers, or foams, which means it may take you a while to get used to sleeping on a buckwheat hull pillow. Although these pillows offer contouring and cushioning, they do not shift with your body, but rather hold your head and neck in place. We recommend that you allow yourself about 5 days to adapt to a new pillow. It makes sense to get an adjustable option so that you have time to determine the exact amount of fill that will make you comfortable. People who have done this say it is well worth the trouble because you'll have a customized pillow in the end.
Who Is It Good For?
A buckwheat pillow is most beneficial to the following groups of people:
- People with allergies: If you are allergic to latex, down or feathers, you would certainly benefit from a buckwheat hull pillow.
- Snorers: Buckwheat pillows offer excellent head support, keep the airways open, and reduce snoring.
- People who get hot in their sleep: Buckwheat pillows have excellent airflow, retain minimal body heat, and usually sleep cool.
- Back and side sleepers: The stable surface, along with the ability to conform to the shape of your body, allows buckwheat pillows to provide adequate support for most back and side sleepers.
Who Is It Bad For?
A buckwheat pillow may not work well for the following groups of people:
- People who struggle lifting heavy items: A buckwheat pillow will weigh at least 10 lbs., so anyone who cannot easily lift this weight would not appreciate such a heavy pillow.
- Light sleepers: People who wake up at the slightest noise may not sleep well hearing the rustling sound of buckwheat hulls.
- People who like snuggling with their pillow: Buckwheat pillows are too rigid to be snuggled up with since they are designed to support the head, neck, and shoulders.
Features of a Good Buckwheat Pillow
These natural pillows tend to be quite basic, even if they have a certain sophistication in their own right. However, you should definitely consider the following features:
Comparatively speaking, buckwheat pillows tend to cost more than most other types of pillows. The average price tag is between $50 to $75, although some models exceed $100. At these prices, they are less expensive than down-filled pillows or organic cotton, but more expensive than memory foam or latex.
The best buckwheat pillows come with a bag of additional hulls that can be used to adjust the height or replace the hulls as needed.
If you like sleep comfort while you travel, a separate carry bag for your pillow would certainly be helpful.
When a pillowcase has a zippered opening, you can make easy adjustments by adding or removing hulls to achieve the thickness and loft you prefer. You can also replace the hulls as your pillow gets older as most manufacturers sell the hulls separately.
A separate removable pillowcase that can be machine washed is important. It also makes the pillow softer and more comfortable to sleep with. The best fabric choices are cotton, silk, or bamboo.
The quality of the hulls is of utmost importance, whether in a ready-made pillow or bought separately. Since buckwheat hulls are a natural material, low-quality hulls may contain dirt, dust, mold spores and other plant debris, as well as come crushed or covered in buckwheat powdered meal. Look for thoroughly cleaned certified organic hulls that are chemical and additive-free. A high-quality product will serve you well for years to come.
How to Sleep on a Buckwheat Pillow
Buckwheat pillows were originally intended for back sleepers, yet there are a lot of side sleepers who prefer them as well. On the other hand, stomach sleepers may have difficulty getting comfortable with this choice even though the pillow can be adjusted.
Sleeping with a buckwheat pillow is a pretty different experience, but many people grow to prefer it over time. It usually takes a little time getting used to it because buckwheat hulls tend to be firm and make a little noise when you move around.
We recommend that you try it out for a couple of nights and just add or remove hulls until you feel comfortable. You may need to move the fill around a little to form a supportive space for your head, neck, and shoulders. If you tend to shift positions while sleeping, you may need to keep adjusting your pillow.
How To Care For A Buckwheat Pillow
It is always best to keep a pillowcase over your pillow so that it won't get dirty. However, at some point in time, it still might need to be cleaned as accidents can happen.
You cannot throw your buckwheat pillow into the washing machine as the water will ruin the hulls. However, the removable cover can be washed and, should your buckwheat hulls get wet, they can be set in the sun to dry.
- In addition to your pillow, you will need a clean pillowcase and a string or ribbon.
- Place your pillow on a table or other flat surface.
- The pillowcase needs to be completely tucked under the pillow.
- Unzip the zipper at the end of the pillow.
- Pull the pillowcase completely around the pillow to catch the hulls falling out of the pillow. Empty out all the hulls into the pillowcase. If you turn the pillow cover inside out, you can get them all, including the ones in the corners.
- Use the string or ribbon to tie up the end of the pillowcase to keep the hulls from spilling out. Most covers are machine washable, but there may be some shrinkage if you're not careful. To minimize this, use cold water when washing and hang to dry.
- When the cover is clean and completely dry, use the same process to place the hulls back into the pillow.
How to dry buckwheat hulls
Accidents happen so if you spilled any liquid on your pillow, the hulls should be replaced with new ones. When buckwheat hulls get drenched, they totally lose their supportive shape. Moreover, it would be impossible to get the liquid completely out, so this may lead to mold growth.
However, if the hulls just got a little damp from a tiny drop of water or from a humid environment, they can be thoroughly dried out and rejuvenated in the sun.
- Choose a clean container large enough to hold all the hulls in your pillow.
- Slowly pour the hulls into the container, spreading them out evenly.
- Place the container in a sunny window for several hours, periodically stirring them. If you have kids at home or pets wandering around, make sure the container cannot be disturbed.
It is recommended that buckwheat pillows be placed in the sun for a few hours once or twice a year. This can be in front of a warm window or in a safe place outside. The warmth of the sun will refresh your pillow. Just make sure you don't do this on a damp or rainy day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Buckwheat Pillows Attract Bugs?
No matter what scary stories you may have picked up off the Internet, the chances of your buckwheat pillow attracting bugs are practically zero. If any of these stories are true, the bugs are likely due to a poor-quality product filled with incompletely cleaned buckwheat or poor storage.
Could I have an allergic reaction to buckwheat hulls?
Buckwheat hull pillows are generally considered hypoallergenic; however, a tiny percentage of users could have an allergic reaction. This would likely be to buckwheat flour residue, which can remain from the milling process.
How do I adjust the buckwheat fill?
Most people adjust the amount of fill in their buckwheat pillows to suit themselves. The amount of fill in the pillow will determine its thickness and malleability. Most products are shipped fully stuffed, so if your pillow seems too firm or too thick, you can remove hulls to your satisfaction.
The best way to do this is to stand your pillow on its end, so the zipper faces up at you. Open the zipper and using a cup, scoop out the extra hulls into a storage bag or a container. Zip the pillow up again and you're good to go. Keep at this until you are totally comfortable with your pillow.
How many pounds of buckwheat hulls do I need for one pillow?
There is no exact answer for this because it depends on how tightly you pack them into their container. Generally speaking, 1 lb. of hulls is approximately 200 cubic inches. A 10-lb. bag would certainly fill a Standard-sized pillow, with some hulls to spare.
If I switch to a buckwheat pillow, will it relieve my pain?
If you've been sleeping on a really soft pillow, switching over to a firmer option may ease your neck or back pain. Buckwheat hulls would give you the support you may currently be lacking while you sleep.
I've heard that buckwheat pillows are noisy. Is this true?
They do make a slight rustling noise when you first lay your head down and if you move around a lot. Most people adjust to the sound after a few nights.
Are buckwheat pillows soft or firm?
If you are looking for something soft and squishy, then buckwheat pillows would definitely not be an option because they are quite firm. However, the hulls conform to the shape of your head, neck, and shoulders, offering comfortable support, so it doesn't really feel "hard."
How long can I expect my buckwheat pillow to last?
Just as with most things, this will mainly depend on how well you take care of your pillow and the quality of materials it's made from. The average buckwheat pillow will last for 3 years since the hulls are quite durable. But with good care, some models can last up to 10 years.
What size of buckwheat pillow should I get?
For most people, we recommend the Standard size, which measures 20" x 26". This is clearly the most popular size, and it fits Standard-sized bedding sets and pillowcases. Travelers naturally prefer a smaller size, which works well for children as well. Also, smaller size is more in line with the traditional Japanese buckwheat pillows. If you have a King-sized bed, a King-sized pillow would be appropriate.
Buckwheat pillows ensure comfort at your home and offer the support you need to have a healthy and restful night's sleep. Orthopedic in nature, they hold the head, neck, and spine in proper alignment throughout the night. They can be helpful in reducing neck and back pain, migraine headaches, and snoring.
These Japanese pillows are made of all-natural materials, so they are hypoallergenic as well as dust mite resistant, which is great for people who suffer from asthma or allergies. Because the hulls promote airflow, they are fully breathable with a cooling effect. People who tend to get hot at night will forget about overheating or sweating forever and for good.
In the morning, you will wake up feeling refreshed, well-rested, and ready to take on the day with no pain, numbness, or stiffness. We've given you our recommendations for the best buckwheat pillows on the market today, so you can feel confident in selecting one of our top picks.