How Does a Futon Work? 5 Benefits of Using!

A futon is a wonderful option if you are looking for a bed on a budget. Futon mattresses have their origins in 17th-century Japan. But over time, they have evolved to become highly functional pieces of furniture worldwide.

Traditional futons in Japan were meant for the nobility. They were made of cotton and were rolled out for the kings and queens. Gradually, the futon became popular because of its flexible nature.

Since houses in Japan are typically small, the futon is an excellent space-saving device. They are rolled out for sleeping on the floors, rolled back up when not in use, and stowed away, making floor space for other activities.

In the Western world, modern futons come with a frame. They became popular after the 1980s when America was all about practical living. You can spread the futon on the floor, but you can also put it on the frame, which can be adjusted to make a bed or a sofa as needed.

Futons are great for sleeping, but are they good enough to become your primary bed? Read on to find out.

How is a Futon Different from a Standard Mattress?

How is a Futon Different from a Standard Mattress

A futon can be used both for sitting and sleeping, depending on how it is rolled up or what kind of frame you use. Or, you can simply spread it on the floor. A futon is about three to nine inches thick, and modern futons are made from cotton, wool, or a mix of foam and latex. It is a great option if you are looking for a temporary sleeping arrangement.

Standard foam mattresses are over 12 inches thick and heavier than futons. They are made from memory foam and latex; the expensive ones also have temperature-regulating fibers. Hence, it is better suited for long-term sleep use as the thickness and material provide more support than a futon, which is lighter and thinner.

Benefits of Using a Futon Mattress

A futon mattress is worth considering if you want something comfortable yet inexpensive. You may consider a futon if you do not have a serious physical condition requiring a medically approved mattress or a foam orthopedic mattress. Here are some of its benefits.

1. Space Saving

Space Saving

Futon mattresses are the ultimate piece of furniture if you have a small living space and want to focus on utilizing the floor space to the fullest. You can consider a futon if you do not want to leave a bed on the floor for the entire day that you will only use at night.

You can adjust your futon frame to resemble a sofa during the day and lay it out at night when you are ready to sleep. It’s also great when you are sleeping in a dorm or want to make room for a guest.

2. Lots of Variations

Futons come in a variety of thicknesses and sizes. Like regular mattresses, the futons are also available in twin and queen-size options. They are big enough to give you a comfortable sleep, even for two people. When you convert it into your sofa, it will also give you extra seating space.

In addition, the futon comes in a variety of thicknesses. They are mostly between three inches to nine inches thick. They are usually thinner than conventional coil or spring mattresses. But the thickest ones are still good enough to give you comfortable sleep.

On the other hand, the thinner ones are lightweight and are excellent for moving and camping if you have to spend a night or two on the road.

3. Affordable


Futons are more affordable than regular mattresses. It is much more inexpensive than buying a dedicated bed. Conventional mattresses cost a thousand dollars, and when you add the cost of the bed frame and box spring, the sum can be quite a lot.

The futon can be a great option if you are on a budget. You will get a bed and a sofa at a price that is lower than what you would pay if you were to buy them individually. Adding a mattress topper to a futon makes it much more comfortable at a much lower cost than a conventional mattress.

4. Comfortable

A futon mattress will not contour your body like a foam mattress. But if you like firm mattresses and do not have any joint problems, a futon is comfortable enough. If you like a harder surface, you will find it comfortable to sleep on for several days. It is also a good option for stomach sleepers.

5. Practical


The futon allows you to rearrange your living space if you have a small apartment. You can seamlessly convert your space from day to night without doing much.

The futon can be your work sofa for the day, the comfortable couch when your friends come over in the evenings, and the cozy bed for the night. It is way more comfortable than a sofa bed that is at most four or five inches thick.

If you frequently change your living quarters because you have to travel for work, the futon could be an excellent choice. Moreover, you can toss it at the back of your truck if you want to go camping.

Conventional mattresses are way too bulky to move around and often get left behind.

Disadvantages of a Futon Mattress

While a futon has several benefits, there are certain drawbacks as well. Knowing about them will help you determine whether you want to invest in one and can make a more informed decision.

1. Not very Supportive

Not very Supportive

A futon mattress is less supportive than a conventional coil or foam mattress. As a result, it is not suitable to be a primary bed if you have joint issues or suffer from poor sleep quality.

Traditional foam mattresses will contour your body, keep you warm, and relieve joint issues. Futon mattresses will not support your spine enough nor ease pressure from your muscles if you sleep on them for days at a stretch.

2. Will not Match your Décor

Futon mattresses are all about functionality and not much about style. It mostly comprises a metal frame and the mattress itself. It could look out of place if you want a particular look for your rooms or guest bedrooms.

That is why it is mostly suitable for dorm rooms. You must only consider getting a futon if you are not worried about the bed clashing with the rest of the décor.

3. More Wear and Tear

More Wear and Tear

Futon mattresses undergo wear and tear faster than regular mattresses. Futons are thinner than regular foam and innerspring mattresses. They also undergo more wear and tear because they are folded up and laid out. They are used when you go camping or if you move house frequently.

Hence, futons may show signs of wear and tear far more quickly than a traditional mattress. Futons will only last longer if used occasionally, not as primary seating or sleeping furniture.


It is natural to have some questions when buying something for your home. The answers to these questions will help you determine whether you want to buy a futon.

What are futons made of?

Traditional futon mattresses are made of hay, animal hair, reeds, or cotton. Modern futons have foam fillings and could have a combination of foam and coils.

If you have any allergies, ask what the futon is made of. Because of the material, the futons are not as thick as conventional foam mattresses, as that would make it difficult to roll them up. 

Are futons expensive?

A high-quality futon with a bed frame will cost you a sum. However, since futons can be adjusted to a bed or a sofa, their prices are lower than both beds, and sofas are commercially available.

That’s why it is favored by students or those on a budget. It may not guarantee high-quality sleep like a foam mattress that contours your body. But it is affordable enough to buy one and enjoy good sleep. You can get one for under a thousand dollars, while foam mattresses are way more expensive.

Is the futon similar to a sofa bed or a daybed?

A futon has a foldable frame and can be used for seating and sleeping. You have to stretch it and fold it according to your needs. A sofa bed looks like a regular sofa with cushions that you can use at night for sleeping.

A daybed also looks like a sofa with a twin mattress. You can sleep on it whenever you want without any conversion.


You will always find some need for your futon if you have one at your home. They are great as convertibles when a friend comes over unexpectedly and wants to stay the night. Or, if you suddenly want to spend the night on your balcony or terrace on a hot night.

If you’re yet to set up your permanent home or haven’t decided on the kind of mattress you want to invest in for the long term, the futon would be the option to go for while you take some time to figure things out. And more importantly, futons will allow you to rearrange your space without breaking your budget.

Sarah Wagner

I'm Sarah Wagner, and I founded Sweet Island Dreams in 2022. It's a blog dedicated to helping people mental vacation virtually anytime they want. By providing information about the best sleep of your life, I help people drift away to paradise without ever having to leave their bed!