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Best Buckwheat Pillows:
Top Picks for Cooling and Support

UPDATED

Written by Garen Glazier

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Breus

Expert Tested

Table of Contents

Originating from Japan centuries ago, buckwheat pillows are filled with natural seed hulls that encourage airflow and don’t trap heat. They typically come with a zipper that allows sleepers to add or remove fill to find the perfect loft.

Buckwheat pillows are great at keeping the head supported and cool during sleep. Offering a multitude of benefits, this unique pillow type is a great option for sleepers who want a malleable pillow that cradles the head, neck, and shoulders. After extensive product research, we found that the best buckwheat pillows are those that contain organic materials, come in a wide range of size options, and have features that make them easily adjustable for different sleep positions.

We’ll explore what buckwheat pillows are, their pros and cons, which sleepers they are best for, and our top picks.

The Best Buckwheat Pillows

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Best Overall

Sweet Zzz Buckwheat Pillow

Buy From Sweet Zzz
Fill Material:

Organic Buckwheat Hulls

Firmness:

Firm

Price:

$139

Cover Materials:

Organic Cotton

Highlights

  • Organic cotton covers
  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified for safety
  • Contains 5 pounds of buckwheat hulls

Ideal For

  • All sleeping positions
  • Sleepers who want easy maintenance
  • Those looking for a durable pillow

Why We Like It

The SweetZzz Buckwheat Pillow consists of two organic cotton covers and fill made of organic buckwheat hulls. OEKO-TEX Standard 100-certified, the pillow is free of many potentially harmful substances.

We found the pillow appropriate for all sleeping positions, though it received top marks from the back sleepers on our team. Side and stomach sleepers may want to add or remove some hulls to create the right loft for their individual needs. We also found that this pillow performed well at reducing heat buildup due to the breathable covers and fill.

The SweetZzz Buckwheat Pillow includes free shipping and a 50-day return policy.

Our testers concluded that the SweetZzz Buckwheat Pillow’s 5 pounds of buckwheat hulls and two pillowcases provide the optimal resting spot for all types of sleepers. Crafted from organic cotton and buckwheat hulls, the SweetZzz Buckwheat Pillow provides soothing comfort to all sleeping positions and those experiencing neck or shoulder pain.

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Best Value

The Futon Shop Organic Wool & Buckwheat Pillow

Buy From The Futon Shop
Fill Material:

GOTS-certified organic buckwheat hulls and GOTS-certified organic virgin wool

Firmness:

Medium Firm

Price:

$150

Cover Materials:

GOTS-Certified Organic Cotton

Highlights

  • Plush layer of GOTS-certified organic wool
  • Made in San Francisco
  • Materials are naturally flame- and dust mite-resistant

Ideal For

  • All sleeping positions
  • Those with allergies
  • Eco-conscious shoppers

Why We Like It

The Futon Shop Organic Wool & Buckwheat Pillow is an eco-friendly option that provides comfort and support for all sleeping positions. The added layer of wool gives a touch of softness not seen in most buckwheat pillows, making it a great option for people with neck or shoulder pain.

The Futon Shop Organic Wool & Buckwheat Pillow uses environmentally friendly materials throughout the pillow. The outer shell consists of GOTS-certified organic cotton for breathability that keeps the pillow cool. Inside, the pillow contains a layer of GOTS-certified organic virgin wool and a fill of organic buckwheat hulls.

The Futon Shop Organic Wool & Buckwheat Pillow comes in four sizes, including travel, standard, queen, and king, and two fill options. Shoppers can choose to add a barrier fabric bed pillow protector for an additional charge.

The combination of GOTS-certified materials creates a sustainable pillow that cradles the head, neck, and shoulders and alleviates tension for a variety of sleepers.

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Most Comfortable

PineTales Buckwheat Pillow – Premium

Buy From PineTales
Fill Material:

Buckwheat Hulls

Firmness:

Firm

Price:

$180

Cover Materials:

Rayon Derived from Bamboo (Outer Pillowcase), Cotton (Inner Pillowcase)

Highlights

  • Rayon cover feels extra soft
  • Cover available in three designs
  • Inner and outer pillowcases reduce noise

Ideal For

  • All sleeping positions
  • Those interested in a pillow that retains its shape
  • Sleepers worried about noisy buckwheat hulls

Why We Like It

The PineTales Buckwheat Pillow – Premium has an outer pillowcase made of bamboo-derived rayon and a cotton inner pillowcase. Our testers found that the combination of two covers reduces noise from the buckwheat hulls when moving or changing position. The pillow’s fill consists of U.S.-grown buckwheat hulls, which sleepers can add or remove according to their preferences through the zippered covers.

The PineTales Buckwheat Pillow is available in five sizes and three cover designs. PineTales does charge for shipping, but is able to ship their products worldwide. Pillows are not eligible for returns or exchanges.

We found the PineTales Buckwheat Pillow – Premium minimizes the noise typical of buckwheat pillows while providing ample support and conforming capabilities. With a unique inner and outer pillowcase design, the PineTales Buckwheat Pillow is fit for all types of sleepers, especially those who favor a supportive and quiet pillow.

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Best for Side Sleepers

Hullo Buckwheat Pillow

Buy From Amazon
Fill Material:

Buckwheat Hulls

Firmness:

Firm

Price:

See on Amazon

Cover Materials:

Organic Cotton

Highlights

  • Buckwheat hulls grown and milled in the U.S.
  • Adjustable loft
  • Machine washable organic cotton twill cover

Ideal For

  • Side sleepers who need a lofty pillow
  • Those who prefer products made in the U.S.
  • Vegans

Why We Like It

Overstuffed with thousands of tiny buckwheat hulls, the Hullo Buckwheat Pillow arrives with a mid-to-high loft that provides ample support, ideal for side sleepers.

The pillow’s fill consists of buckwheat hulls grown and milled in the U.S. A preshrunk organic cotton twill encases the fill and contains a hidden zipper for fill adjustments. The entire pillow is cut, sewn, and assembled in the U.S.

Our testers found that the Hullo Buckwheat Pillow promoted healthy spinal alignment for side and back sleepers due to the pillow’s firm feel and adjustable fill. 

The Hullo Buckwheat Pillow is available in three sizes and has a sleek look that suits a variety of decor. Sold on Amazon, the pillow has a 30-day return policy.

Overall, the Hullo Buckwheat Pillow has an adjustable loft that makes it well-suited for side and back sleepers who appreciate U.S.-made products.

How We Make Our Picks

Our product testing team consists of diverse individuals of varying sleeping positions and body types to ensure our reviews reflect a wide range of experiences. Our team conducts extensive research and testing of every pillow for data-backed analysis. Each tester also has years of experience as an authority in the sleep space, ensuring we base all of our buckwheat pillow recommendations on knowledge and expertise.

Also known as sobakawa pillows, buckwheat pillows originated in Japan more than 600 years ago. Since their origin, people have used buckwheat pillows to achieve zukansokunetsu, which means a cool head and warm feet.

Buckwheat is a flowering plant that produces grain. When harvesters process buckwheat for consumption, the hard outer shells, known as hulls, are often left over. Many manufacturers use these hulls to design supportive pillows for hot sleepers.

Buckwheat pillows are known for their beanbag-like quality. The hulls easily move around inside the pillow, conforming to the sleeper’s upper body. This level of moldability is integral to alleviating neck and shoulder pain. Most buckwheat pillows allow for the level of fill to be adjusted so sleepers can add and remove hulls according to their needs.

We’ll dive deeper into the pros and cons of buckwheat pillows, who should choose a buckwheat pillow, and how to keep them clean.

Are Buckwheat Pillows Organic?

Many buckwheat pillows contain organic hulls. Buckwheat hulls are plant products that are natural, compostable, and biodegradable. The growing and manufacturing processes are also eco-friendly in that buckwheat is often grown without fertilizers and pesticides and the hulls are cleaned and dried without additional chemicals.

Some pillow covers are made of organic materials such as certified organic cotton or wool, while others contain synthetic materials or blends.

Buckwheat Pillow Sizes

Buckwheat pillows come in many sizes, which vary by brand and model. Common sizes include standard, queen, and king. Buckwheat pillows also come in the smaller Japanese/traditional sobakawa size. Many manufacturers also design specialty shapes and sizes, including neck and body pillows.

SizeAverage Dimensions
Japanese / Traditional Sobakawa14” x 20”
Standard20” x 26”
Queen20” x 30”
King20” x 36”

Are Buckwheat Pillows Comfortable?

Buckwheat pillows are naturally firm and have a unique feel. Those who favor firm pillows will find buckwheat pillows comfortable, while those who enjoy a soft, plush pillow may not like the hardness of the hulls or the lack of cushioning.

Sleepers who like buckwheat pillows often cite their moldability. These pillows seamlessly conform to the head, neck, and shoulders, promoting neutral spinal alignment for those who sleep on their side or back.

Pros and Cons of Buckwheat Pillows

Consider the pros and cons of buckwheat pillows to determine if it’s the right pillow type for your sleeping position and preferences.

Advantages

  • Adjustable loft: Sleepers can often add or remove buckwheat hulls to adjust the pillow’s loft, making it accommodating for a variety of sleeping positions and preferences. For instance, side sleepers who typically require higher lofts can add hulls, while back sleepers can remove hulls to achieve a low or medium loft.
  • Support: Due to the hardness of the hulls, buckwheat pillows are firm and retain their shape under the weight of the head. The hulls can be adjusted to the needs of different sleep positions, providing sufficient support for most side and back sleepers.
  • Natural cooling: Buckwheat hulls allow for air to flow naturally through the pillow, making them great for hot sleepers. This is one of the major benefits of a buckwheat pillow, as the natural material doesn’t trap heat like other pillow types.
  • Moldability: Buckwheat hulls easily move inside the pillow to contour the head and neck, resulting in a feeling similar to sitting on a beanbag. The moldable pillow creates a comfortable and customizable shape to support the head, neck, and shoulders.
  • Natural materials: Buckwheat hulls are a natural material that can be composted at the end of its lifespan. For models with natural materials used for the cover, as well, this makes for a very eco-friendly pillow option.
  • Durability: The outer shell of buckwheat seeds are naturally hard and durable, enabling a longer lifespan compared to softer pillows with less shape retention. The longevity may even offset the higher cost often associated with buckwheat pillows.

Disadvantages

  • Heavy: Buckwheat pillows can weigh as much as 10 to 12 pounds. This is heavier than most other pillow types, which usually weigh a few pounds or less. Some sleepers may not enjoy the additional pillow weight, especially if they like to travel with their personal pillow.
  • Noisy: Buckwheat hulls are hard and, as they move around, they move against one another and make sounds. Similar to beanbags, buckwheat pillows create a rustling noise when lying on or adjusting them. Some sleepers may find the noise distracting or disruptive.
  • Firm: Buckwheat pillows are firm to extra firm. Some sleepers, especially those who prefer a plush pillow that allows their head to sink in, may not like such a hard surface to rest their head on. Stomach sleepers, for instance, generally need a soft to medium soft pillow for optimal spinal alignment, if they use one at all.
  • Clumpy: Over time, buckwheat hulls can clump together and flatten, requiring sleepers to regularly adjust their pillow. Sleepers may need to fluff the pillow frequently or eventually replace the hulls to fix the issue.
  • Scent: Because a buckwheat pillow’s fill comes from a plant, it emits a natural, earthy scent. This odor is more prevalent in newer pillows and typically goes away with time. Some sleepers love the smell and find it relaxing, while others dislike it or feel that it’s overpowering.
  • Price: Buckwheat pillows generally have a higher price tag than other pillow types, especially if the buckwheat pillow has one or more organic certifications. Although the upfront costs may seem high, they’re typically offset by the pillow’s excellent durability and longer lifespan.

Explore More Pillows

If you’re looking for a particular type of pillow, check out our other guides below. 

Who Should Choose a Buckwheat Pillow?

A variety of sleepers can benefit from choosing a buckwheat pillow. Those who sleep on their back or sides, prefer substantial firmness, or need strong support for their upper body tend to like buckwheat pillows.

Type of SleeperBuckwheat Pillow Benefits
Back SleepersBuckwheat pillows with low to medium lofts are optimal for back sleepers because they allow the head to stay aligned with the spine, reducing pressure buildup that could lead to shoulder or neck pain.
Side SleepersBuckwheat pillows with high lofts fill the gap between a side sleeper’s head and mattress. The pillow prevents the head from sinking, ensuring it remains lifted and aligned with the spine.
Sleepers Who Want an Adjustable Loft PillowMost buckwheat pillows have a zipper that allows for easy customization of the pillow’s loft by adding or removing hulls. This adjustability ensures that the pillow can be tailored to individual preferences, accommodating various sleeping positions and providing personalized comfort.
Sleepers With AllergiesBuckwheat pillows are naturally hypoallergenic, making them a suitable option for those with allergies to latex, wool, down, or feathers.
Hot SleepersBuckwheat hulls do not trap heat as other materials do as the fill moves freely around the pillow, promoting airflow and breathability. A buckwheat pillow combined with a breathable fabric like cotton is an excellent option for hot sleepers.

How to Clean a Buckwheat Pillow

Many buckwheat pillows have covers that are machine washable. Buckwheat hulls cannot be cleaned, so sleepers should remove the hulls and place them in a separate container prior to washing the cover.

Replacing Buckwheat Hulls

Sleepers can refresh their pillow by replacing the buckwheat hulls around once every three years. You can purchase buckwheat hulls through Amazon, pillow manufacturers, or seed companies. Replacing the fill requires approximately 10 to 12 pounds of hulls, which can range in price but starts around $50. When choosing replacement hulls, you may want to consider several factors, including where the hulls are grown and whether or not they’re organic.

Are There Bugs in Buckwheat Pillows?

Buckwheat pillows do not attract bugs. Buckwheat food products, such as flour, contain insect-attracting sustenance. However, buckwheat pillows only contain empty outer shells, meaning they do not contain the substance that attracts insects.

About The Author

Garen Glazier

Staff Writer, Product Testing Team


Garen is a health and lifestyle content creator. She realized the importance of sleep when her children made getting a good night’s rest more challenging. Garen is always learning something new about the wide world of sleep and sleep products. Married with two girls, ages 7 and 11, she is a book nerd and a lover of pop music, travel, and the Pacific Northwest.

  • POSITION: Side Sleeper
  • TEMPERATURE: Neutral Sleeper
  • CHRONOTYPE: Wolf

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