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According to the National Sleep Foundation, people in the U.S get enough sleep regarding quantity, but they just may not be getting the best sleep possible. Although there is no miracle solution to poor quality sleep, your pillow can help you get more comfortable so that you can get better shut-eye each night.
With all the different types on the market, choosing the best pillow for your needs with the right filling can be confusing at times. Whether it’s memory foam, latex, or water pillows that you’re used to, everyone has a preference, and each one serves its user in different ways. Today we’re discussing something known as Japanese buckwheat pillows, which have been used in Asia for hundreds of years to align the spine, regulate temperature and provide support. In our buckwheat pillow reviews and buying guide we highlight the reasons why you might want to purchase one of these and make some recommendations to help you find the best buckwheat pillow.
Top 5 Buckwheat Pillow Reviews
Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow With Cooling Technology
The Sobakawa by Natures Pillows is made of cotton and buckwheat hulls. It doesn’t contain any unnatural fillers or added ingredients. It comes in two different sizes; the standard is about 12” x 19”, which is about 2/3 the size of a regular-sized version and works well for travel. The jumbo size at 20” x 29” is approximately a Queen size.
To wash the included covering, you would have to undo one of the seams. There is no zipper or easy access to the filling inside; however, the seams are durable and stitched well. If you want to use a washable covering, you might wish to place a washable pillowcase over the entire product.
Zen Chi Organic Buckwheat Pillow
This queen size buckwheat pillow is 20” x 30” and feels as ample as a regular bed pillow. It can be shifted around easily because it is not stuffed to the brim with hulls. However, it does weigh approximately 9 pounds, making it more challenging to move than a traditional feather, fiber, or down pillow.
The organic buckwheat has not been treated with chemicals and being 100% natural means it can help reduce headache and stress. There is minimal heat retention too, so in a similar way to water pillows, this also provides a natural cooling effect. Although the Zen Chi may have a slight musky odor, most people don’t think it’s too strong or offensive. You can purchase additional buckwheat hulls separately to refill as needed, or you can also remove some if you find the pillow to be too firm.
WheatDreamz Organic Buckwheat Pillow
The WheatDreamz by Bean Products is made of organic buckwheat which is great for allergy sufferers. To add to the hypoallergenic properties, the covering is also made of organic, unbleached cotton. A natural airflow through the filling keeps things cool at night, giving you undisturbed sleep.
There are a plethora of sizes available: the most common is the 14″ x 20″ which is considered to be known as Japanese buckwheat pillows. It’s small enough to move easily around your bed. You may even be able to travel with this pillow. The product also comes in Travel size (17″ x 21″), Standard size (20″ x 25″), Queen size (20″ x 30″), King size (20″ x 36″) and a neck roll which measures at 6″ x 16″.
The buckwheat pillow is hand-manufactured in the U.S which means by not being imported it is not subjected to chemical fumigation. This means the organic properties remain natural and untouched of external intervention which imported pillows are subjected to.
Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow
One of the most popular on the market, the Beans72 buckwheat pillow comes in the standard Japanese size of 14″ x 20″, Queen size which is 20″ x 30″, and King size which is 20″ x 36″. The filling is made of organic buckwheat hulls, and the casing is constructed of natural, unbleached cotton. Although many buckwheat pillows are manufactured in China, the one on review here is created in the U.S.
If you’re not happy with the loft or standard firmness, you can remove or add hulls. The casing contains a zipper, which allows you to customize the comfort level. If the pillow feels too firm, remove some of the buckwheat. If it’s too floppy, add hulls to your liking. The material can also be thrown in the washing machine after the hulls are removed. Because it’s made of cotton, you may want to avoid drying this using heat.
ComfyComfy Rectangular Buckwheat Pillow
The ComfyComfy buckwheat pillow comes in four different sizes. The smallest is close to the traditional Japanese size, 15” x 21”. It can also be purchased in 15” x 23”, 15” x 26” and 20” x 26”.
While some Japanese buckwheat pillows are overstuffed, this one is not. It also comes with an extra pound of hulls so that you can customize the softness. You can also save the additional fill in case you need to add more as the pillow wears down. The buckwheat hull filling is grown in the U.S. It has not been chemically treated or fumigated. The cotton casing is 100% organic. Overall, it is a decently priced item in comparison to the others reviewed here.
Benefits Of Buckwheat Pillows
Many types of pillows can harbor dust mites. Although you can control dust mites in your bedding by washing it frequently, it’s difficult to clean a pillow properly. Any moisture that remains within the pillow can make it especially attractive to dust mites. Plus, the New York Times reports that two-thirds of allergy sufferers are sensitive to dust. Most of the best buckwheat pillows are made in the USA and therefore are not fumigated with pesticide to help eradicate unwanted organisms, which makes them 100% natural. They are often covered in 100% cotton covers which tend to be unbleached too, leaving a wholly natural product.
Traditional pillows can cause a whole host of problems. If they’re not supportive enough, your neck could be misaligned as you sleep. This can cause aches, pains, and neck problems. Synthetic and feather pillows may flatten out over time, requiring you to shell out money on new ones. Buckwheat pillows, on the other hand, support the head and neck for optimal positioning. They don’t flatten out as you sleep. Some have a zipper, which allows you to remove or add filling to adjust the firmness and loft. Although your pillow may seem very flat when you first receive it, shake it out to give it loft before adapting it to your sleep position.
To get the best support out of a Japanese buckwheat pillow, you should lie down in the position in which you usually sleep. Your head should be on the pillow, and your shoulders should remain on the mattress. Adjust the loft so that your head is in a neutral position. It shouldn’t be tilted forward or back, and your shoulders and neck should be relaxed.
To mold the pillow into the right position, you may have to press down with your hands and move some of the hulls to the side. Once the pillow has been shaped into the proper arrangement, it should stay relatively stable as you sleep. However, the pillow will shift once you get up. Therefore, it maintains an ideal balance between support and pliability.
Have you ever flipped your pillow over in the middle of the night so that you can lie down on the cool side? Unlike memory foam pillows, buckwheat hull pillows don’t hold heat next to your head. Because the hulls are shaped like tiny cups, they can’t become compressed. Therefore, they allow for consistent airflow; thus the buckwheat hull won’t retain heat or moisture.
If you have problems with night sweats or warm temperatures while you sleep, you can put the pillow in the refrigerator. Wrap it in a plastic bag first, and leave it there for two hours before you go to bed. The pillow can feel refreshing for up to an hour.
Good buckwheat hull pillows can last for decades. They tend to cost more than feather or fiber filling, but they make up for their price in longevity. The hulls make these overall quite heavy. In fact, a buckwheat pillow can weigh up to 10 pounds. Therefore, the construction really must be durable to withstand the weight of the filling.
If the seams or the zipper break, the interior can spill out. As you’ll be putting pressure on the pillow every night, the fabric must be durable enough to withstand some wear and tear, which again points top stronger build quality and durability.
Although the outer cover is no doubt very strong, the hulls don’t last forever. Over time, they will break down and flatten. You can recognize when the shells need to be replaced because the pillow will lose some volume. It won’t provide the same support, and it may feel harder and flatter. Also, as the hulls wear out, they will block some airflow, which means you may find that your pillow doesn’t cool as well as it used to. Nonetheless, if you opt for the best buckwheat pillow, it should last about ten years.
Buckwheat pillows create a gentle sound as the hulls move against each other, which for some may take some getting used to. If you’re new to this type, the crunching noise can be distracting as you’re trying to fall asleep. However, if you sleep in a loud environment, the sound of the buckwheat hulls can cancel out sounds in the environment. Some people say that buckwheat pillows generate something similar to white noise, or even the sound of the ocean, which is relaxingly calm and helps them sleep.
How To Care For A Buckwheat Pillow
The deterioration of a buckwheat pillow is not always discernible. The headrest breaks down over time. Eventually, it will be less supportive than it once was and you may notice that the pillow has less give. You don’t necessarily have to buy a new pillow when this happens. Some manufacturers sell hulls that you can use to replace the old ones.
Many of the good buckwheat pillows have a removable covering. Remove the hulls from the casing periodically, and wash the material. Keep the buckwheat in a paper or plastic bag while you’re cleaning the cover. Be careful when washing the case so that it doesn’t shrink. A regular pillowcase will further protect your pillow from dirt, oil, and abrasion.
If you spill water on the pillow, remove the hulls immediately. Spread them out in a shallow container, and try to place them in the sun. This will prevent moisture from building up within the product. If you spill another type of liquid on it, you may need to replace the buckwheat hulls. Alternately, you can wash the hulls. This video shows you how.
Although it can take time to adjust to buckwheat hull pillows, you may experience less back and neck pain when you use one. You may sleep more soundly and be able to ignore environmental noises.
When it comes to choosing the best buckwheat pillow, we love the Beans72. It is made in the U.S from 100% American-grown buckwheat hulls, and 100% natural unbleached cotton. The loft and firmness is customizable, and it comes in a small Japanese size, Queen, and King. It, therefore, ticks almost every box.
One of the complaints that we have about other pillows that are manufactured overseas is that the buckwheat is fumigated when it enters the U.S. Even if the material is grown organically, it is subjected to chemicals later on. Therefore, we prefer the American-made products.
Once you get used to the feel, size, and noise, you may find it hard to sleep on a traditional pillow again.
Lindsay is a contributor and the senior editor of all content posted on this site. She is in this role due to her somewhat unrivaled expertise through previous retail experience in the mattress and bedding industry.