A Sobakawa pillow is a buckwheat filled pillow made for head, neck and shoulder support, used in Asia for over 2,000 years. The pillows have also become very popular for their therapeutic properties and their durability. Doctors recommend switching conventional bed pillows every year as these pillows lose their “support” i.e. elasticity. Sobakawa pillows are made of dried buckwheat fruit that have been triple vacuumed of any flour and debris so the pillows last for several years.
Various online reviews tout having the same buckwheat pillow for ten to fifteen years! It is very possible that because buckwheat pillows are so popular and that Sobakawa has become a dependable name, these customers are using their pillows for a few years, tossing them and returning to the same brand buckwheat pillows. Even so, this practice still provides for substantial money savings over time.
Unlike memory foam, fiber, cotton, feather and down pillows, buckwheat pillows are very firm. Back pain is lessened since the whole upper spine (upper back and shoulders and surrounding the head) is molded to the sleepers own natural body curves, providing custom fit posture. The firmness might not be for every sleeper so it is important to test the pillow for a few days. Quite a few people report needing about a week to get used to such a pillow, but they also note that once accustomed to the buckwheat cushions, the neck area has a difficult time adjusting to the lacks support of other pillows.
Sobakawa pillows also do not compress like memory foam, which means less of the pull back pressure from the pillow onto the back of the head. Example: The spring of a conventional cotton pillow is slightly rubber band-like so when a weight is placed on the pillow, there is a natural point of compression (how far in the weight pushes the pillow.) Like elastic, the pillow pushes back to its original shape when the weight is lifted. This is the point of memory foam – people want to sink into their pillows. The main problem with standard thick cotton, thin (feather, sponge, down) and memory foam pillows is that the sleeper can feel the hard surface under the pillow or that point of compression on the back of the head. The sleeper than has to change positions, tossing and turning or waking up. Buckwheat pillows that are moderately to lightly filled offer even weight distribution on all sides. Buckwheat pillows are moderately filled; not overstuffed and not lightly filled.
This type of pillow is fantastic for sleepers who have trouble breathing, including snorers. When the spine is not straight, breathing is restricted causing uncomfortable sleep and sometimes even panic. Few things are more terrifying than waking up gasping for air because the sleeper is receiving signals from the brain that there is an air supply problem. To dispel these alerts, the sleeper need only get comfortable and nestle into the Sobakawa pillow, which shifts the buckwheat to the contours of the head, neck and the shoulders. When the head is level with the spine, breathing and comfort is improved – maybe even snoring, depending on the person.
The main reason for trying a Sobakawa pillow is because of its therapeutic nature and no matter what position used, be it tummy, side or back sleeping, this pillow offers incredible support throughout the head and shoulders. Because buckwheat and buckwheat hulls are hypoallergenic, very few people have sensitivities to them. Buckwheat pillows repel the tiny mites that live on skin and are naturally eco-friendly, thus becoming largely accepted by those with allergen sensitivities, as these pillows are so easy to work with. The select few who are sensitive to buckwheat can simply use a nice, thick pillowcase to solve any discomfort.
There are a few reasons to avoid Sobakawa pillows. These pillows are known for smelling a little like grain. A remedy for the smell is to, if the pillow has a zipper, toss in some potpourri or some scented sachets. The odds smell is not too strong, though, as buckwheat, even when tightly packed is very airy and ventilating. This is perfect for sleepers who experience night sweats. Air travels through the pillow, keeping it and the sleeper cool. Perhaps this is why buckwheat pillows are being used more and more for dog beds, although it is important to note that the dried buckwheat in these pillows should not get wet otherwise pillow need to be dried immediately to prevent molding and rotting of the delicate, dried fruit inside. Just remember to use a pillow case and only spot clean.
Though size prohibits some uses, a Sobakawa pillow can be refrigerated and even micro-waved, although heat should really be avoided as buckwheat would lose its natural oils and become more brittle over time. Although now that buckwheat pillows are much more readily available to the Western world, they can be found in mass markets and replaced. At a Target, the pillows run from $15 – $30. Not a bad price for an environmentally sound pillow that will offer years of comforting sleep.