A new pillow may be one of the most challenging items to buy. Soft, firm, thick, thin, organic, or synthetic... the list goes and on and on, and the options can feel endless. It requires a great deal of research to ensure you get the right one! You want a pillow that will help you feel good, sleep well, and maybe even reduce neck pain. You want something that will support your head and feel comfortable when you lie on it. Though this is clear, it can be challenging to know what pillow will give you want you are looking for.
Many pillows may feel comfy, plush, and luxurious on the shelves of your local home goods store, but as soon as you get it home, you find it isn’t all that great after all. Many fillings like down feathers, memory foam, and polyester fibers don’t provide the support and flexibility you need at night.
If you are looking for a new pillow, then we happily introduce you to the buckwheat pillow. This type of pillow uses a natural material known as buckwheat hulls to support your head and neck as you sleep, keeps your head cool, and ultimately helps you sleep better!
The buckwheat pillow may be new to you, but it has actually been around for centuries. In Japan, buckwheat pillows are called sobakawa pillow. In Japanese, soba means buckwheat. Buckwheat is a grain typically used to help manage soil during the off-season. It is an ancient grain that has been traced back to 2600 BCE in China. These buckwheat crops were brought to Japan around 300 BCE and were frequently used because of their fast growth and resiliency. Buckwheat is an incredibly durable crop, able to grow in harsh conditions and be ready for harvest in just a few months.
When first introduced to Japan, it didn’t immediately become pillow filling. Instead, it was used as a food (e.g., soba noodles) and helped people get by during famines. It wasn’t until roughly the 15th century that the sobakawa pillow came to be. At this point during the pillow's evolution, people were looking for softer materials.
To reduce waste and save on costs, people started to fill fabric pillowcases with buckwheat hulls. When buckwheat was harvested, people often tossed the hulls away to get the grain inside. When the sobakawa pillow first originated, it was used primarily by the wealthy. This is because they were the only ones with the means to acquire more luxurious fabrics like cotton and silk. These fabrics would make soft pillowcases that were then filled with buckwheat hulls. Pre-industrial revolution, these fabrics were imported from overseas and a more exclusive product.
Fast forward to the 19th century, and cotton had become much more accessible. As a result, the buckwheat pillow was used by many, regardless of wealth and status. In Japan, it has continued to be used by the masses to this day.
If you are wondering why people are still stuffing their pillows with buckwheat hulls when so many modern materials exist, it’s understandable. As time has passed, our bedding has evolved. The exception to this is buckwheat hulls, and it is because of the incomparable health benefits they possess.
In Japan, people believe sobakawa (buckwheat pillows) helps a person achieve Zukan-Sokunestu. This loosely means “cool head, hot feet.” The concept's origin is in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is centered around the belief that when your feet are warmer than your head, you will have better blood circulation. Further, by having better blood circulation, your mind will be clear. Zukan-Sokunestu can be achieved in different ways, such as a hot bath with a cool towel on the head or a buckwheat pillow!
Japan is ranked among the top 5 wealthiest nations in the world, and the pillows they use may play a significant part. Buckwheat hulls offer superior breathability - more than any other modern-day filling. Their unique shape and structure prevent them from piling together. Because of the space between the fiber, it allows airflow to travel through your pillow, keeping you and your pillow cool. By cooling your head down, you can get a night of better sleep.
Cooling pillows are commonly seen amongst the various pillow options lining shelves. Different technologies and fabrics are designed to keep a persons’ head cool as they sleep. This is one of the reasons why buckwheat pillows have started to gain popularity in countries around the world, including the U.S.
In the U.S, a significant amount of buckwheat crops are grown, with 6700 hectares grown in 2019. However, this is not enough to keep up with demand, so some pillow manufacturers are sourcing their buckwheat hulls from China and Russia. The two nations are the leaders in buckwheat production and export hulls worldwide.
Though sometimes you may find a cheaper pillow when stuffed with buckwheat hulls from other countries, you don’t know precisely what you are getting. Furthermore, because it is a crop, it may be exposed to pesticides and various other chemicals – things you do not want in your pillow!
Further, imported hulls or any other imported finished goods must be fumigated upon entering the U.S. This means that even if the hulls were organic when they were grown, they are sprayed with toxic chemicals per USDA regulations. So, even if it says it’s organic if it was imported, it is still at risk for containing toxins.
When looking for a buckwheat pillow, you should stick with organic U.S grown buckwheat hulls and a pillow made in the U.S. You breathe in any chemicals or toxins your pillow contains each night you lay on your pillow. Our buckwheat pillows are made in the U.S. with 100% U.S.-grown organic buckwheat hulls.
Buckwheat pillows possess a number of benefits, in addition to their cooling abilities. Many people are switching to sobakawa pillows to reduce back, neck, and head pain. Back pain is a leading complaint amongst adults, with many waking up stiff and sore. A pillow that doesn’t provide the proper support or isn’t the right size can cause this pain.
As humans, we haven’t always slept on a plush mattress with multiple pillows lined up on our beds. For a very long time, we slept on the floor, and our bodies haven’t evolved all that much. So your body isn’t designed for pillows will with soft fibers or memory foam, which is why you may wake up feeling stiff or in pain.
Your pillow's job is to keep your head, neck and spine aligned. It does this by filling in the gap between your head and the mattress when you lay down. So, for example, if you sleep on your side, your shoulder will be on the bed, and your pillow should keep your neck aligned with your spine.
Buckwheat pillows are chiropractor-recommended and proven to work miracles for those looking for a supportive pillow. Once again, the unique structure of buckwheat hulls offers a considerable advantage. The hulls are firmer than most other pillow materials, so they will keep your head supported throughout the night. This means you don’t have to continuously fluff it up or squish it into a ball to get the proper cervical alignment.
To achieve this level of alignment, your pillow must be adjustable. The distance between your head and mattress will be different from the next person. Additionally, if you sleep on your back, side, or both, you may want to adjust the size accordingly. Our buckwheat pillows are fully adjustable. You simply open the zipper on the inner pillowcase and fill your pillow with buckwheat hulls to achieve your designed height and firmness.
Ancient grains meet modern technology when buckwheat hulls are used inside pillowcases made of superior quality and materials. For example, we have developed a buckwheat pillow with a cooling pillowcase for those who run extra hot when they sleep. This is one of the coolest pillows on the market. No matter the temperature, your pillow will remain cool to touch because of the unique outer pillowcase.
There are other options as well, with pillowcases made from cotton twill, bamboo, and woven cotton. These fabrics are all breathable and exceptionally soft, so you can continue to reap the benefits of a buckwheat pillow.
We spend so much of our life sleeping, and it is critical to our health, so it is crucial that we do it right. You likely spend more time on your pillow than you do anywhere else in your home. The right pillow, mattress, and routine can make all the difference when it comes to getting a good night's rest.
If you are looking for a new pillow, consider a buckwheat pillow. It has one solid reputation and has been used for centuries! Buckwheat pillows can keep you cool, help you sleep better, reduce head, neck, and back pain, improve circulation and even help you think more clearly!