Who knew the key to 40 winks might be buckwheat?

Having a “crick in the neck” is one of the worst things to wake up to in the morning. Medical News Today (MNT) says a crick, “makes the neck feel stiff and less mobile than usual.” While it can be the result of an injury (like whiplash), MNT lists other likelier causes:

  • muscle injury or tension due to sitting or sleeping in an awkward position
  • sitting at a computer all day
  • poor posture
  • strains, sprains, and other minor injuries
  • poor muscle flexibility
  • muscle weakness
  • muscle spasms

I’m an easy candidate for a cricked neck. I spend a lot of time at my laptop. I slouch. I have stiff shoulder muscles and have difficulty moving or turning my head when I sleep the wrong way. Sometimes it happens because life is extra stressful, and I’m struggling with my anxiety disorder. But more often than not, a crick sticks when I’ve fallen asleep reading a good book or one of my daughters has taken up prime real estate on my bed in the middle of the night.

I’ve tried balms, massages, stretching, painkillers, and more to get rid of or ease the neck pain. Yet it often takes several days for everything to pop back into place. That is, until I started sleeping on a buckwheat pillow, a pillow filled with buckwheat hulls. It may sound weird, like something a crunchy mom would do, but I learned there are actual health benefits to buckwheat.

Here are three ways using a buckwheat pillow can help give you better sleep.

01. It’s Cleaner

You can easily find buckwheat pillows filled with the hulls of organically grown buckwheat. They are dust mite resistant and hypoallergenic. If taken care of properly, thee sturdy hulls in these pillows can last 10 to 20 years. When they do break down, buckwheat hulls are affordable and easy to refill. On the other hand, fiber, or feather-filled pillows, should be replaced every 6 to 36 months according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Traditional pillows often include synthetic materials as well as the toxins used to make them. Science Daily reports that an initial analysis by Stockholm University found thousands of chemicals on textiles, even on organic cotton. "Exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of allergic dermatitis, but more severe health effects for humans as well as the environment could possibly be related to these chemicals. Some of them are suspected or proven carcinogens and some have aquatic toxicity," says Giovanna Luongo, PhD in analytical chemistry at Stockholm University. We spend one-third of our lives in bed. With a buckwheat pillow, you’ll rest easy knowing you aren’t breathing in toxins or allergens.

02. It Controls Temperature Best

Buckwheat pillows are excellent at temperature control due to the breathable hulls which allows constant air circulation and ventilation. You can even use them to retain hot or cold temperatures depending on your preference. Warm it up in a microwave before tucking in on a chilly night. You can also use a warmed buckwheat pillow for some natural pain relief (e.g., for abdominal cramps or shoulder pain). On uncomfortably warm nights, you can stick a buckwheat pillow in the freezer before bed–it can keep you cool for at least a couple hours, making it easier to fall asleep.

03. It Supports Proper Alignment

My favorite health benefit of using a buckwheat pillow is its pliable nature. Whether you sleep on your side, back, or stomach, the buckwheat hulls will adapt to whatever position you are in all night long—perfect for tossers and turners. This ensures you’ll have proper back, neck, and head alignment throughout your entire sleep. It encourages proper posture and lowers the likelihood of waking up to a stiff or painful crick in the neck.

Along with preventing pain, a buckwheat pillow can also treat existing pain by relieving pressure, muscle tension, headaches, and other ailments. I tend to carry a lot of tightness in my neck, shoulders, and upper back. Using a buckwheat pillow for one or two nights now always totally relieves any pain I had in these areas the night before.

Waking up rested and refreshed is worth the average $50 cost of a buckwheat pillow. Take a gander at a few well-reviewed and well-made options below. Then treat yourself!

Sachi Organics Buckwheat Support Hull Pillow in Medium // Natural Linens, $52

Slumbr Ara Buckwheat Pillow (Organic) // Musely, $65

Beans72 Organic Buckwheat PIllow - Japanese Size // Amazon, $45

Organic Wool & Buckwheat Pillow - Travel Size // The Futon Shop, $40

Organic Buckwheat Hulls Sleeping PIllow (Waterproof) - Compact Size // Amazon, $45

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