comprehensive buckwheat pillow buying guide
Buckwheat pillows have exploded in popularity. How to choose from so many options?

Choosing the Right Pillow: Your Buckwheat Pillow Buying Guide

Choosing the right pillow is essential for ensuring you get the restful sleep you need. Buckwheat pillows have become increasingly popular in recent years. As a result, a ton of companies have sprung up to sell them. The many different options are overwhelming. In this buckwheat pillow buying guide, we will take a closer look at buckwheat pillows and why our product, Hullo, is the best choice on the market.

Understanding Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat pillows are filled with, you guessed it, buckwheat hulls, the outer protective shells of buckwheat seeds. Buckwheat hulls’ unique shape makes it excellent pillow filling. The individual hulls’ rough edges grip one another, enabling your pillow to conform perfectly to the shape of your head and neck, eliminating any uncomfortable pressure points. Traditional pillows can lose their shape and support over time, while buckwheat pillows offer consistent and comfortable support all night long.

Buckwheat hull filling is also breathable. They allow air to circulate through your pillow, keeping you cool throughout the night.

Finding the Perfect Buckwheat Pillow

1. Assessing the Quality of Components

  • Fabric case — Opt for a breathable and durable organic cotton fabric that keeps your pillow comfortably cool while preventing rips and tears. Buckwheat hulls are not light (about 10 lb. for a standard size pillow), so your pillow’s seams should be double-stitched. A ripped seam can make quite a mess! Hullo utilizes a 7 oz/yard organic cotton twill fabric, striking the ideal balance between comfort and durability.
  • Zipper — a high-quality zipper will keep your pillow’s buckwheat hulls where they belong — inside your pillow. Individual buckwheat hulls are quite small and can get past a cheap non-locking zipper or one that is improperly stitched.
  • Buckwheat Hulls — The right hulls for use in a pillow are not easy to find. They should be vacuum-cleaned, intact (not crushed), and of adequate size to ensure breathability. With every purchase of buckwheat hulls from our suppliers, we painstakingly inspect all sources and purchase only the very best available.

Our commitment to quality ensures that your Hullo pillow will last for years, providing excellent support and comfort every night.

2. Emphasizing Sustainability

Sustainability plays a pivotal role in selecting a buckwheat pillow. At Hullo, we prioritize eco-friendly practices throughout our production and shipping processes.

  • Renewable and Compostable Materials — Our buckwheat pillows are crafted using renewable, compostable, and organic materials, minimizing their environmental impact compared to traditional pillows that end up in landfills for hundreds of years.
  • Durability and Replaceable Filling — Hullo pillows are designed to last, with easily-replaceable filling thanks to its zippered opening. By offering a long-lasting product, we reduce resource consumption and contribute to a more sustainable future.
  • Environmentally-Friendly Production and Transportation — From fabric cases to buckwheat hulls and cardboard boxes, Hullo prioritizes locally sourced materials, significantly reducing energy waste and pollution generated during transportation.

3. Additional Benefits: Fast, Free Shipping, and 60-Day Return Window

Hullo ships free via UPS Ground to the 48 Contiguous United States. Every Order. Every Day.

We want you to be completely satisfied with your Hullo pillow, and we stand behind our product with a generous return policy. Try Hullo for 60 nights. If you’re not happy with the sleep you’re getting with Hullo, just ship it back to us and we’ll refund the purchase price.

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing a buckwheat pillow, Hullo is the clear choice. Our commitment to quality, sustainability, and customer satisfaction ensures that you will get a pillow that provides excellent support, lasts for years, and minimizes your environmental impact. Choose Hullo for the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.

Hard Pillow
This firm pillow lover enjoys some rest with his concrete paver pillow and rock mattress (he’s dreaming of comfortable alternatives)!

Sleep is essential to our overall well-being. It’s important to ensure that we get quality sleep so that we can function effectively during the day. We all know that good rest requires a comfortable pillow!

Some people can’t get a good night’s sleep without a rock-hard concrete slab under their head. Soft, squishy traditional pillows just don’t do the trick. If you’re one of those people, you know the struggle is real. There are very few viable pillow options for your unique sleeping needs.

A buckwheat pillow might be just what you’ve been looking for.

An unzipped Hullo buckwheat pillow

Buckwheat? That’s for hippies and health nuts, right? Well, not exactly. Buckwheat pillows have been used for centuries in Japan and other parts of Asia, where they are highly valued for their durability and support.

A buckwheat pillow is filled with the hulls of buckwheat seeds. Buckwheat is a popular plant grown all over the world primarily for harvesting its nutritious groats. Its hulls (the protective outer layer of the groat) have been used as filling for pillows, bedding and furniture for centuries. Buckwheat pillows are well-known for their firmness, making them perfect for those that are looking for more support than other types of pillows can provide

Benefits of using a buckwheat pillow

  1. Breathable: Unlike traditional pillows that can trap heat and moisture, buckwheat pillows are highly breathable, allowing air to circulate and keep you cool throughout the night.
  2. Customizable: One of the most significant benefits of using a buckwheat pillow is that it is highly customizable. You can add or remove buckwheat hulls to adjust the firmness of the pillow to your liking. This feature ensures that you can have a pillow that is tailored to your specific needs.
  3. Durable: Buckwheat pillows are made with high-quality materials and can last for many years, making them a cost-effective option in the long run.
  4. Supportive: Most importantly, buckwheat pillows provide excellent firm support to the head and neck. The buckwheat hull filling conforms perfectly to the shape of your head, alleviating pain and stiffness caused by uncomfortable pressure points.

Do you prefer firm pillows? Give Hullo a try!

If you prefer a hard pillow, then our Hullo™ buckwheat pillows are probably a great choice for you. Unlike traditional pillows that can become lumpy and lose their shape over time, buckwheat pillows maintain their shape and firmness, providing consistent, firm support all night long. Don’t take my word for it, have a look at our customer’s reviews.

So, if you’re in the market for a hard pillow, don’t settle for just any product labeled “firm.” Give Hullo a try and discover the best sleep of your life.

Are buckwheat pillows good for neck pain

Neck pain can be a real nuisance, and it’s no surprise that people are always looking for ways to alleviate the discomfort. While there are many different types of pillows on the market, buckwheat pillows have become increasingly popular among those seeking relief from neck pain. Let’s explore the benefits of buckwheat pillows and whether or not they are good for neck pain.

What are Buckwheat Pillows?

Buckwheat pillows are pillows that are filled with buckwheat hulls. Buckwheat is a type of grain that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. The hulls are the outer shells of the buckwheat grain, and they are cleaned and processed to create a filling for pillows. Buckwheat pillows are often marketed as a superior alternative to traditional pillows because of the unique qualities of their hull filling.

Benefits of Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat pillows have several benefits that make them a popular choice for those with neck pain. First and foremost, the pillows are adjustable. Because the buckwheat hulls can be moved around inside the pillow, you can adjust the height and firmness of the pillow to suit your needs. This means that you can create a custom pillow that provides the support you need to alleviate neck pain.

Another benefit of buckwheat pillows is that they are breathable. The hulls allow air to flow through the pillow, which can help keep you cool and comfortable while you sleep. This is especially important if you tend to get hot at night, as traditional pillows can trap heat and make you feel uncomfortable.

Most importantly, buckwheat hulls are malleable. Buckwheat hull filling will conform perfectly to the shape of your head and neck eliminating uncomfortable pressure points, cradling your head consistently all night long.

Will Buckwheat Pillows Help Relieve Neck Pain?

In short, yes, buckwheat pillows can be good for neck pain. The pillows can be adjusted to provide the support you need, and the breathable material can help keep you comfortable while you sleep.

It’s worth noting that buckwheat pillows may not be suitable for everyone. Some people find the pillows to be too firm, while others find them too noisy (the hulls can rustle when you move around on the pillow). However, many people have found relief by using buckwheat pillows, so it’s worth giving them a try if you’re looking for a new pillow.


If you suffer from neck pain, a buckwheat pillow may be a good choice for you. These pillows are adjustable, breathable, and above all, comfortable, making them a popular alternative to traditional pillows. While they may not be suitable for everyone, many people have found relief from neck pain by using buckwheat pillows. Consider trying one out to see if it works for you!

An unzipped buckwheat hull pillow

Buckwheat pillows have been gaining popularity in recent years, with many people turning to them as an alternative to traditional down or foam pillows. But are buckwheat pillows comfortable? Let’s explore the features and benefits of buckwheat pillows and help you decide if they’re the right for you…

Firstly, what are buckwheat pillows? Buckwheat pillows are filled with the husks of the buckwheat plant, which are small, triangular-shaped seeds. These seeds are known for their durability, and they don’t compress like traditional pillow fillings. This means that buckwheat pillows can provide better support for your head and neck.

Buckwheat pillow highlights include

  1. Customizable Support: Buckwheat pillows allow users to adjust the filling to their desired level of firmness and support, providing a personalized sleeping experience.
  2. Improved Sleep Posture: The natural contours of buckwheat hulls allow for proper spinal alignment and reduced pressure points, resulting in a more comfortable and restful sleep.
  3. Breathable: Buckwheat hulls allow for air circulation, keeping the pillow cool and dry throughout the night. This can be especially beneficial for people who tend to get hot while sleeping.
  4. Sustainable and Eco-Friendly: Buckwheat is a renewable resource and its use in pillows reduces waste and supports environmentally responsible practices.

So, are buckwheat pillows comfortable?

The answer largely depends on your personal preference. While some people swear by the support and adjustability of buckwheat pillows, others find them too firm or noisy. The sound of the hulls moving around in the pillow can be a dealbreaker for some.

If you’re considering a buckwheat pillow, it’s important to give it a try before making a purchase. Look for a retailer that offers a trial period, or try a friend’s pillow to get a feel for the texture and support. Keep in mind that it may take some time to adjust to a buckwheat pillow if you’re used to traditional down or foam options.

In conclusion, buckwheat pillows have many benefits that can make them a comfortable option for some people. Their adjustability, breathability, and support make them a great choice for people who struggle with traditional pillow options. However, it’s important to try a buckwheat pillow before making a purchase, as the texture and sound may not be right for everyone.

Donate to The Nature Conservancy

Hullo™ is obviously comfortable, but it has another benefit: it is a sustainable product. That is, it’s produced in a way that minimizes its impact on the environment and society.

When we started Hullo over 10 years ago, we knew we needed to do it responsibly:

  • We make our buckwheat pillows with renewable, compostable, and organic materials. Hullo will not lie in a landfill for hundreds of years like pillows made with petrochemicals.
  • Hullo pillows are designed to be durable and include easily-replaceable filling. A long-lasting product reduces resource consumption.
  • Hullo is produced and transported using environmentally-friendly methods. The fabric cases, buckwheat hulls and cardboard boxes are produced locally, substantially reducing wasted energy and the pollution generated in transporting goods.

Additionally, we contribute 1% of all our profits to The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to protecting nature and preserving biodiversity around the world. Many eco-charities do good work, but The Nature Conservancy has proven very effective among its peers.

The Nature Conservancy works to:

  1. protect critical habitats: The organization protects important habitats for plants and animals, including forests, wetlands, and oceans. By conserving these areas, The Nature Conservancy ensures that these ecosystems continue to function properly and provide valuable services to humans and other species.
  2. Address climate change: The Nature Conservancy is committed to finding solutions to the climate crisis, which is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity and the health of our planet. They work to promote renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and promote sustainable land use practices.
  3. preserve endangered species: The Nature Conservancy protects endangered species by preserving their habitats, reducing threats from invasive species, and working with local communities to promote conservation.
  4. promote sustainable agriculture: The organization works with farmers and ranchers to promote sustainable agricultural practices. This helps protect soil health, water quality, and biodiversity.
  5. support scientific research: They conduct scientific research which helps us better understand the natural world. This research then informs effective conservation strategies.

Please consider making a donation to The Nature Conservancy. You and/or your business can support these important conservation efforts and protect the planet for future generations!

This woman’s tortured posture contradicts her smile. “You’re on a private plane with a huge comfortable seat. Toss your airplane pillow out, lady.”

Flying is rarely a comfortable experience, even when you’re sitting in first class seats.

Packaged shoulder-to-shoulder in a tight little cylinder with germ (and virus) spewing strangers is a difficult endeavor, especially when it’s a long flight. Ever tried to sleep on an airplane? I see people somehow sleeping soundly while in flight and it makes me very envious. I’m tall and absolutely incapable of sleeping upright. For that reason, plane travel is especially difficult for me. I can’t stretch out my legs, and there’s no place to rest my head. Sitting comfortably is difficult. Sleep is impossible. Flying sucks.

While passing through an airport recently, I took notice of the many ridiculous looking neck pillows wrapped around traveller’s necks.

They quickly transform a fashionable traveller into a frumpy neck-injury patient. Despite that, these odd pillows are quite popular. I was intrigued. Would an airplane pillow help me get comfortable on the plane?

Consider what your bed pillow does for you every night at home… It cradles your head and neck evenly at just the right level. It fills the space between your head and your mattress while keeping your body in a neutral sleeping position — your neck and back are in a straight line without any upward or downward bends in your spine. Maybe you have to fluff it a little, smoosh in a certain way, or even fold it in half… it works to keep your head positioned comfortably so you can sleep.

It’s really difficult to sleep upright in a seat because inevitably your head will nod forward or to the side, waking you. It’s easy to take sleeping horizontally for granted! Airplane pillows are designed specifically to support your neck and neck while seated in an upright position. Do they work? Let’s find out…

I decided to try an airplane pillow on my next vacation.

airplane pillow
Most airplane pillows look like this one.

My family planned a trip to California, a 5 hour red-eye flight. This flight would be the perfect use-case for one of those goofy pillows. I knew that they’d charge me an arm and a leg for one at the airport, so I did some searching online prior to my trip. I read through reviews and it seemed as though most people had a good experience with airplane pillows. The negative reviews demonstrated reasonable and consistent complaints, so it was obviously not a slam-dunk. I picked the best airplane pillow I could find (“best?” It seems as though 90% of the airplane pillows available are nearly identical, so my thorough shopping efforts were largely in vain).

Pro tip: It turns out that the TSA doesn’t GAF about your little airplane pillow. Also, most airlines don’t count them as an individual carry on, so wrap as many as you want around your neck!

The day of my flight arrived. I wrapped the pillow around my neck and sheepishly proceeded to my gate.

My daughter made non-stop jokes about my appearance. “You expecting vampires on the plane?” She wouldn’t be laughing when she saw me sleeping soundly, head cradled in the magic airplane pillow!

We boarded the plane. I sat in my seat and quickly realized that the pillow was forcing my head forward, away from the seat back. My seat was completely upright still, as we hadn’t gotten off the ground. I removed the pillow from my neck and waited patiently with the it in my lap while the plane ascended into the night air.

DING. The seatbelt indicator lights dimmed. I quickly reclined my seat as far as it would go.

Normally, I’m not one to do a full recline. Yes, the seats are designed to do that, but it drives me crazy when the seat in front of protrudes into my precious space. I try to be a conscientious traveller. Fortunately, today my unsuspecting daughter was behind me. After suffering her abuse at the terminal, it seemed appropriate to push back as far as I could go.

With my seat now fully reclined, I placed my airplane will around my neck and prepared to relax.

It was immediately obvious that it wasn’t going to work.

The airplane pillow still pushed my neck and head forward in an uncomfortable bend. “How can anyone think this is comfortable?”

I tried to push the filling from the back edge to the two sides to allow more room for my head to lean backwards. Nope.

Fortunately this pillow had a zippered opening, which allowed me to remove some of the filling. That’s a unique feature that most airplane pillows don’t have. I opened it up and was surprised to see what appeared to be brown wool. Weird. (according to the product description, it’s actually a polyester microfiber) 

I stowed the extra pillow filling in my seat pocket and tried again. 

Better. Now the airplane pillow allowed enough room for my head to rest all the way back in my seat. I tried to relax. It still didn’t work for me. The pillow simply wasn’t thick enough on the sides to support my head. My cheek compressed the pillow filling, causing my neck to bend uncomfortably.

Resigned, I handed it to my daughter who was happy to give the airplane pillow a go in the dark cabin where aesthetics are of secondary concern. She too conceded that it wasn’t suitable when used as intended. She put the pillow in my wife’s lap and laid her head on it. Now it looked comfortable. I sat awake and endured the long night nodding off in Netflix.

I won’t be using it again.

My airplane pillow wasn’t useful. In fact, it made my seat more uncomfortable. Despite the adjustment in the amount of filling, it only served to take up valuable space and get in the way.

I am 6’1” tall. Perhaps it’d work for some with shorter or thicker necks. However, my 5’5″ daughter didn’t care for it either so that’s probably wishful thinking. Also worth mentioning: I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a window seat, but I imagine that if you could lean against the fuselage/window, it could feasibly be considerably more comfortable.

To the credit of the folks designing and manufacturing these pillows, it’s no easy task to make these things work.

Given my experience, I’d assume that a smaller rectangular or cylindrical (bolster) pillow would be preferable for use on an airplane. That said, there are a few other really unique designs that approach the issue of support much differently than the traditional u-shaped pillows. I’m resigned to flying sans pillow for now, but I might have to try again with a different type soon!

house with buckwheat hull mulch

Before we discuss the nuances of buckwheat hull mulch, let’s consider just what mulch is and what benefits it provides. Mulch with clean, sharp edging obviously looks great. Because the aesthetic improvement is so appreciated, homeowners overlook the other advantages to mulching. There are important reasons to add it to your property. Why should you mulch?

Mulching helps:

  • regulate soil temperatures. It creates a barrier protecting soil from cold winter air, insulating and protecting it and the plants it hosts until spring.
  • curtail weed growth. Mulch prevents sunlight from reaching seeds. It also keeps them from reaching the soil beneath, which is required for most seed’s germination.
  • slow evaporation. It prevents dry air from pulling the moisture out of your soil and plants.
  • reduce soil erosion. Protecting your soil’s surface from wind and rain will minimize the impact of both falling rain water and blowing winds.
  • improve soil nutrition. Decomposing organic material in mulch will provide nutrients to aid growing plants.

I’ve been using wood chips for years and it works well.

It’s hard to find fault with traditional wood chip mulch. It works pretty darn well and it’s dirt (er… mulch) cheap. In fact, many cities give it away for free. For these reason, it’s great for large areas.

That said, you might want to avoid some wood mulch types. Dyed mulches (red is the most popular) are often made from recycled materials like pallets or construction waste. These wood chips are dyed to make product appear more uniform. It sounds great in principle, recycling old wood. Unfortunately this material sometimes contains toxic chemicals. For example, recycled lumber often contains the poison arsenic, a known carcinogen. I wouldn’t spread that around my home!

What is buckwheat hull mulch?

Most big box landscaping supply stores don’t carry buckwheat hull mulch. It’s a specialty item that’s suited for use in smaller garden plots, individual planters or for potting soil mixes.

buckwheat hull mulch
Buckwheat hull mulch can blow away in a large open area like this.

Buckwheat hulls are much more resistant to absorbing valuable water than wood mulch.

They’re (mostly) non-absorbent. This characteristic allows much more water to penetrate the mulch down into to the soil. The hulls then shield the soil below from the elements, helping it retain that moisture. Their resistance to water absorption also helps them last longer than wood mulch.

Buckwheat hull mulch should be applied in a layer no more than 1 ½ inches thick. That’s all that’s necessary for it to be effective. Just like other mulch types, too much will reduce the underlying soil’s oxygen levels.

Moisture sensitive plants such as roses, vegetables and perennials benefit from a buckwheat hull and potting soil mixture.

You can’t mix wood mulch and potting soil because it can cause a nitrogen deficiency. Buckwheat hulls offer a soil mixture nutrients and aeration without this issue.

They are susceptible to wind erosion.

Buckwheat hulls are lightweight and can be caught in the wind if it’s out in the open. Be aware that your nicely manicured plants could quickly become less than impressive on a windy day. Keep your buckwheat hulls confined to areas where the wind can’t catch them. They’re popular for use in raised bed planters, as they’re protected from the wind.

I learned the benefits of buckwheat hull mulch when I replaced my first buckwheat pillow’s filling.

I’d never tried buckwheat hull mulch until recently. My 10 year old buckwheat pillow needed a refill, so I had about 10 pounds leftover after replacing the hulls with new ones. I used it around my newly planted oakleaf hydrangea. That single mulch application helped the plant thrive and survive a its first cold Michigan winter. Since that worked so well, every time someone in our house replaces their pillow filling, we reuse the hulls outside in our garden.

Hullo buckwheat hulls
Buckwheat hulls can be refreshed or simply replaced.

If you’ve got an older buckwheat pillow or two that could use new filling, you can feel good about replacing it.

While an old memory foam or polyester pillow will lie forever in a landfill, your used hulls will get a second life. Buckwheat hull mulch will provide your landscape with beautiful texture and give nutrients and protection to its soil.

buckwheat honey

My wife recently asked me, “have you tried buckwheat honey before?” Nope. I’ve been living and breathing buckwheat pillows for many years and, oddly the opportunity to taste it had never come up. I was curious.

Buckwheat Honey in a Bottle
It’s not gold, it’s brown.

The internet’s flowery reviews call buckwheat honey “funky” and “like a barn.” That doesn’t really sound appetizing. Honey is supposed to be sweet and delicious… Undeterred, I ordered “pure buckwheat honey” from a company called Dutch Gold.

Buckwheat honey is very different from the yellow stuff in the plastic bear container.

Apparently the lighter a honey’s color, the milder the flavor. The typical yellow honey most of us are familiar with is filtered at high temperatures to remove things like pollen and beeswax. As a result, their flavors are much more mild.

Buckwheat honey’s dark color is a result of the polyphenols it contains . Polyphenols are type of micronutrient that naturally occurs in plants. Foods and beverages rich in polyphenol compounds typically are associated with bitterness.

When my buckwheat honey arrived, I pulled it out of the box and showed my kids.

It didn’t look like the traditional honey we’re used to. Buckwheat honey is quite dark in color, a translucent brown. I’d guess it was molasses if it wasn’t labeled. Apparently it ranges in color from purple to black.

They were anxious to taste it.

“Yuck.” The reaction was the same from both. They’re never enthusiastic about new foods, so I shrugged and indulged.

The flavor is strong and… unexpected. Weird. “Funky,” yes. Buckwheat honey not only looks like molasses, it also tastes reminiscent. It’s a little spicy, with malty overtones. It has an odd bitter characteristic that is quite distinctive. It’s also not as sweet as typical honey.

Where the buck does it come from?

Most honey is distinct from other types because of the nectar of the flowers used to produce it. The buckwheat plant produces long-lasting flowers that bloom into the fall. These flowers create a distinct nectar that honey bees love. As such, beekeepers often plant buckwheat around their beehives. The resulting honey is unique in both appearance and taste.

Yogurt, Bananas, Raspberries and Buckwheat Honey

It’s an acquired taste. 

Initially I thought it was a little too strange. But I’ve been having it with yogurt and fruit this week and it’s really grown on me. The flavor is surprisingly overpowering when sampled alone, but when it’s paired with other flavors, it’s really delicious. Halfway through the bottle, I’m a huge fan of buckwheat honey. My wife loves it too.

A couple good tips that can make your buckwheat honey more useful:

  • Don’t use it in any recipe that calls for honey, because the flavor can be overpowering and it’s lacking the sweetness of traditional honey.
  • Because it’s not a simple sweetener, it’s not quite as versatile as a traditional yellow honey. But it is great for when a little sweetness is required and extra flavor won’t get in the way of another. Thus it works well for things like marinades and bbq sauces.
Sleep with Shoulder Pain
“Not today, hun… I have shoulder pain”

Shoulder pain can often get in the way of quality sleep. Even a mild ache can keep you tossing and turning all night.

Shoulder pain isn’t always evident until you climb into bed. Sometimes the pain-causing compression of muscles, nerves and connective tissue only occurs when you lie down. Gravity pulls on your body differently when you’re reclined, which can reveal or cause pain that wasn’t present during the daytime.

The best way to avoid all sleep related pain isn’t easy or interesting 🙁

Cue the sad trombones… I know this isn’t what you came to read, but it must be said. Consistent exercise is proven to both prevent injuries and aid in sleeping. It’s a long-term commitment and it’s hard work. However, it’s a crucial part of preventative care.

If you’re a side sleeper, try a new sleep position.

Shoulder pain is usually exacerbated for side sleepers because body weight results in pressure on connective tissues and nerves all night. Pain can often be completely eliminated IF you’re able to sleep on your back. It’s a challenge for most, but it could be the resolution to your shoulder pain.

Looking for simpler solutions? Sleeping with shoulder pain is sometimes made easier with just a new pillow or mattress.

pillows with too little and too much loft
If your pillow doesn’t keep your head at the correct level, it is likely you will experience back, neck, or shoulder pain.

The wrong pillow can exacerbate or even be the cause of your shoulder pain.

In an effort to get a little more loft (height) out of their worn-out pillows, some people fold them in half. This most often elevates their heads too high, causing an uncomfortable upward bend in their bodies. Alternatively, many sleep with their arms under their pillows. Both situations can put pressure and stress on our muscles, joints, and nerves in shoulders and cause unnecessary agitation.

Try replacing your pillow with a more suitable one that supports your head properly and comfortably. A good pillow will keep your spine from bending unnaturally upwards or downwards and provide comfortable, even support for your entire head, neck and shoulders.

The firmness of your mattress also is a factor in your sleeping position and comfort.

Pillow top mattresses have become very popular. While they can feel very comfortable initially, they can become a detriment to good sleep. That’s because they’re often too soft. Thus, they don’t adequately support the heavier parts of your body. Your shoulders may be sustaining more pressure due to the mattress sagging too much under the weight of your torso.

OK great, but what can be done about the shoulder pain I’m feeling right now?

If you’ve just woken with sleep-related shoulder pain, try these tips:

1. Give your neck and shoulder muscles a rest.

Your giant head weighs around 11 lb. That’s a lot of weight that your neck and shoulder muscles need to support. Give your muscles a break. If you’ve got some time to spare, lie down. Make sure your head is in a neutral position and that you’ve got a comfortable pillow. More rest is often the best remedy even if you just rolled out of bed.

2. Do your best to avoid stress.

Are you worried that the boss will find out you’ve been stealing from the business for years? Concerned about an early death? Forget your problems and watch a movie or read a book! I recommend Ozark on Netflix.

3. Ice in short increments.

It can work well for some, but cooling can aggravate more serious issues, so If the pain worsens, remove the ice immediately.

4. Have a partner massage the affected area.

Who doesn’t appreciate a good massage? Shoulder pain or not, it generally makes life in the moment a little better.

5. Use a warm compress.

A warm damp towel (use a microwave to heat it) can help to increases circulation and is often effective in providing relief to stiff muscles. Beware, heat can make inflammation worse, so if your symptoms deteriorate, remove that heat immediately!

6. Pop a couple of what modern medication has to offer.

Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help a lot if the pain isn’t too ridiculous. It should go without saying, but please follow the directions on the packaging.

Stretch the muscles in your shoulders.

7. Stretch the muscles in your shoulders.

It’s always best to warm up muscles before stretching, so it’s advisable to take a hot shower or use a hot compress first. The key with stretching is to not overdo it! Try this simple shoulder stretch recommended by health

  1. Bring your right arm across your chest.
  2. Place it in the crease of your left elbow or use your left hand to support your arm.
  3. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Do each side 3–5 times.

Are you consistently getting no sleep with shoulder pain?

If you had a bad night or two, try all of the above and hopefully you’ll get some relief. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain from sleeping on a consistent basis, do something that addresses the root of the issue(s) rather than just treating the symptoms. I recommend that no-fun exercise!

Down Alternative Pillow

Google searches for “down alternative pillow” are growing. There are many different types of down alternative pillows. Many of the most popular types are filled with a unique filling, called gel fiber. What’s so interesting about a gel fiber pillow?

Gel fiber is a type of “micro denier” made from synthetic polyester. Denier refers to the thickness of the fibers. Gel fibers are, simply put, very thin synthetic fibers. They were designed specifically to mimic the properties of duck down.

Traditional down pillows are already popular for a lot of reasons. They’re durable (if you take good care of them), moldable/malleable, work well for most sleeping positions, AND they’re biodegradable.

It’s hard to complain with a list of benefits like that! Or is it?

Haters gonna hate! Down pillows are:

  • expensive. Harvesting high-quality down from birds is a labor intensive job that will cost you.
  • difficult to clean. I’ve managed to destroy several pillows and at least one comforter in my washing machine. Proper cleaning can be a bit tedious.
  • made from animals! Yes you heard it here first, folks: down feathers don’t grow on trees. Thus, those who are concerned with animals’ well-being, should be aware that purchasing down products may result in the poor treatment of animals.

Gel fiber pillow filling attempts to mimic down’s advantages while improving upon some of down’s disadvantages.

Gel fiber pillows compete on:

  • price. They’re far cheaper than genuine down.
  • durability. While a good down pillow can last a very long time if cared for properly, most gel fiber pillows are very easy to clean without damaging them.
  • a supposed “hypoallergenic” quality that’s superior do traditional down. Hmmm…

Dust Mite

Get out of our pillows!

How common are down allergies?

While researching down’s disadvantages, I discovered that a lot of these gel fiber pillows are sold on allergy fears. That’s usually misguided.

People frequently mistakenly blame allergic reactions on a down pillow. Genuine feather allergies are actually quite rare. As it turns out, most reactions can actually be attributed to dust mites or mold. That’s true of any pillow type, however. Pillows generally become more allergenic with age.

Read More: A Hypoallergenic Pillow Should Be Judged with Skepticism

Hypoallergenic claims don’t carry much water.

That’s because there is no regulation in the United States that defines or governs the use of the term. As a result, hypoallergenic pillows can be advertised with impunity. Pillows that are no better or worse at resisting allergens are labeled hypoallergenic without consequence.

A medical dictionary provides a somewhat vague definition:

“Hypoallergenic” – Adjective
A term applied to a preparation in which every possible care has been taken in formulation and production to ensure minimum instance of allergic reactions. Blakiston’s Medical Dictionary

Has “every possible care been taken,” to prevent allergic reactions in a gel fiber pillow? That’s hard to know…

Unless you’re aware that you’re allergic to real down filling, just ignore the salesmen’s mumbo-jumbo.

Can this petrochemical plant help you sleep better?

Unfortunately almost all gel fiber pillows are made with potentially harmful petrochemicals.

We won’t be recycling these pillows. The polyester fibers will sit in landfills, taking as long as 200 years to biodegrade.

What’s more, polyester products are manufactured using dangerous pollutants that are dangerous to both the environment and human health.

There are other down alternative filling varieties, each with its own unique characteristics.

I waded through tons of product descriptions and researched all the trademarked names. It turns out that, unlike other pillow fillings, the down alternatives aren’t very consistent. One pattern was clear however… It appears that the most popular options (also the cheapest) are stuffed with traditional polyester fiberfill.

Traditional Polyester Fiberfill

Also known by its trademarked name, Poly-Fil™, polyester fiberfill is the cheapest and perhaps most prevalent filling used in down alternative pillows. You know these pillows — they’re the flat pillows from your spare bedroom… The bags of lumpy filling that 80s moms thought were good enough.

Down alternative pillows made with polyester fiberfill:

  • don’t last long due to issues with the fill clumping and flattening out.
  • retain more heat than traditional down pillows.
  • aren’t malleable/moldable.



On the other hand, we have new synthetic microfiber pillow fillings. These are far superior to polyester fiberfill. Many have trademarked names like PrimaLoft™, Spira™ or LiquiLoft™. Other varieties are stuffed with a more generic sounding “gel fiber filling.”

It’s a bit simplistic to group these these microfibers together, because each does seem quite unique. What’s clear is that they’re all far more durable, compressible, breathable and malleable than traditional polyester fiberfill.

Shopping for the best down alternative pillow isn’t easy.

It’s difficult to tell which pillows contain the cheap polyester fiberfill vs. something filled with technologically advanced microfibers.

I shopped around at Amazon and purchased two different down alternative pillows. One pillow’s filling was called “gel fiber” and the other cheaper model’s was a “virgin polyester fiber.” I really didn’t know what to expect, but I assumed the cheaper one was probably just filled with traditional lame polyester fiberfill.

My new gel fiber pillows arrived.

First, let me mention that they didn’t smell bad! Often I’ve received pillows that emit a powerful chemical “off-gassing” odor. Memory foam pillows are the worst culprits. These down alternative pillows had absolutely no discernible odor.

The “virgin polyester” filled pillow was just as expected. Filled with traditional polyester fiberfill, it was not impressive.

The gel-fiber pillow, however, was much more interesting.

I’d bought a strange pillow that was “gel-infused” once before. It supposedly would keep me cool (it didn’t). This gel pillow was something else entirely. It didn’t contain any funky blue liquids. It was filled with tiny gel-fibers, apparently each much thinner than a human hair and made with 100% polyester.

I didn’t expect much, but it was surprisingly comfortable. It was breathable and comfortable, although I noticed immediately that it was less moldable, or malleable than traditional down pillow filling.

Additionally, the high quality down alternative fillings seem just as breathable and cool as traditional down. And they’re obviously far more breathable and cool than both memory foam and polyester fiberfill.

The deal breaker for me was the lack of malleability.

No matter how I’d scrunch or squeeze the pillow, it’d bounce back to its original shape. I couldn’t quite get it to feel right when I curled onto my side to go to sleep. the soft filling pressed uncomfortably against my face and no readjustment seemed to help.

The higher-quality down alternative pillows are not bad products. They’re cheap and are far better than the polyester fiberfill pillow my mom bought for me in 1984.

I think there are better pillows to be had. Genuine down pillows for example! I think the only genuine advantage that the down alternatives have is price and ease of cleaning. Real duck down is superior in every other way