Pillows are soft and fluffy. Nothing says a good night’s sleep better than something that can hold your head up and still feel like you can sleep for days. Seeing as the first pillows were rock hard, the change to soft ones is welcome.

But firm pillows still have room in today’s sleep ethic. There are benefits pillows filled with, say, buckwheat hulls can offer that their foamy or feathery counterparts can’t. For the record, they’re not rock hard like the headrests of old—these pillows are still flexible enough to support the head and help you sleep better.

There’s nothing wrong with resting your weary head on foam or latex pillows. However, grown-ups should consider owning at least one or two buckwheat hulls pillows. In this article, you’ll learn why these pillows are worth your attention.

Back pain is inevitable

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, said that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” He probably should’ve added a third item—back pain. The latest zero-gravity adjustable beds might have bought some relief but the back pain is not yet completely vanished.

According to Devon Rubin, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, an estimated one in five adults will suffer from back pain in a single year while four in five will experience it at least once in their lifetime. If you put that into perspective, it amounts to between 40 and 170 million adult Americans, numbers you shouldn’t scoff at.

Don’t let the emphasis on the word “adult” fool you either because back pain affects everyone, no matter the age. Even when you think the pain has finally gone away, there’s still a chance that it’ll return and cause problems again. One study estimates that the recurrence rate can play somewhere between 40% and 70% within 100 to 175 days of the last episode.

Chiropractors often recommend their patients with back pain to rest on something firm, namely a buckwheat hulls pillow. The thousands of rigid hulls packed inside a pillowcase allow it to hold your neck in the best position to support the rest of the spine. Since every nerve in your body is hooked up to the spinal cord, correcting its alignment will mitigate pain.

How well these pillows manage back pain is still up for debate, but there have been studies about it. In 2019, researchers in South Korea compared buckwheat pillows to latex ones through a two-week test involving elderly patients. The study concluded that buckwheat hulls performed better in reducing neck and shoulder pain.

Soft pillows can trigger allergies

The industrial revolution and advances in materials technology helped make the current pillow a reality. It started with natural rubber or latex, polyester fibers, and eventually modern ones such as memory foam. People would probably still be sleeping on rigid headrests if not for these giant technological leaps.

However, with these new solutions also come new problems, such as allergies. Here’s what research says:

  • Researchers at Marshall University estimate that latex allergy occurs among 4.3% of the global population. The rate is higher among healthcare workers at 9.7%, seeing that they often wear latex gloves.
  • The numbers on memory foam allergies are scarce, but these pillows can emit gaseous smells. While not generally a cause for concern, doctors say babies and children are at risk of showing symptoms.
  • Like memory foam, statistics on polyester allergies are also hard to come by. However, as with most synthetic materials, polyester is a common trigger and is often a cause of contact dermatitis.

Despite triggering allergies, these materials are considered too low risk to be considered public hazards. If you don’t suffer from any of these allergies, you can continue sleeping on soft pillows safely. Otherwise, consider hypoallergenic alternatives.

Buckwheat hulls are a great choice for people with allergies due to the nature of the buckwheat. Before fertilizers and pesticides were a thing, farmers grew buckwheat during off seasons between harvests to manage the soil. Even today, they rarely need such chemicals, meaning they won’t cause allergies as much as other materials.

For good measure, pillow manufacturers undergo extra steps like heat treating and screening to weed out other harmful substances. The result is a pillow that fits everyone’s needs, whether or not suffering from any condition.

Not getting enough sleep

Video titled: Buckwheat Pillow | Handcrafted in Arizona by PineTales®

Whether your back is aching or you’re feeling itchy, these reasons will culminate in one serious outcome—sleep deprivation.

Both the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine agree that adults between 18 and 60 must get seven hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 35% of American adults aren’t getting that much sleep.

Because sleep is the only way for your worn-out body to fully repair itself, not getting enough of it can lead to a slew of health problems. Here are some, according to the Sleep Foundation:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Problems maintaining hormonal balance
  • Degrading immunity
  • Increased risk of heart problems
  • Worsening body pain

Further CDC data suggests this, as people living in big cities are more prone to sleep deprivation for apparent reasons. In Detroit, for example, half the population admits to sleeping less than seven hours a day. Coincidentally, almost the same number are obese.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make sure you get enough rest, from having a conducive environment to choosing the right mattress and pillow. Buckwheat pillows aid in this through the benefits previously explained, providing ample support for your back and exposing you to fewer allergens. In fact, your only responsibility in getting enough sleep is to go to sleep on time.

You can check out videos to understand how these pillows can help you sleep in better:


No matter how soft or firm you want them, pillows are an indispensable part of a good night’s rest. But considering that adulting in America will take its toll on you, it pays to have a pillow that’ll share the burden. Buckwheat hulls pillows are perfect for such a task—firm enough to be a pillar of support but also comfortable enough to make you feel like a million bucks the next day.

Levi Huang

Levi Huang, a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in Furniture Design, has been a guiding voice in home furnishing and interior solutions for over 16 years. He became part of our editorial team in 2021, focusing on ergonomic furniture design, space planning, and material innovation. Previously, Levi worked in custom furniture creation and as an interior design consultant. He enjoys woodworking and contributing to sustainable living initiatives.

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