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Futon vs. Mattress: What’s the Difference and Which One Is Better?

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated on November 4, 2021

Futons are becoming more and more popular these days, but can they compete with regular mattresses?

And which one is better for everyday use and restful sleep?

That’s what readers will find out today. This guide will share the main differences between futons and mattresses, their benefits and weak spots, and a side-by-side comparison for better understanding.

Futons Explained

When looking at futons vs. mattresses, one thing is clear: futons are typically thinner. The Japanese tradition of sleeping on the floor can explain that.

Japanese futon mattresses do not usually require any foundation and can be used straight on the floor. Because of that, futon mattresses need to be flexible so that users could easily roll them up and store them away. That’s why Japanese futons are typically thinner.

There are also Western futons available on the market. Compared to traditional Japanese models, Western futons are a bit thicker. They are typically used with futon bed frames that can fold down into a bed or serve as a sofa. 

Now, the futon market can boast of various types and filling materials. Traditional Japanese futons are likely to use cotton or wool. Western futons are typically filled with foam, either memory or polyfoam.

Futon mattresses are often considered a temporary sleep solution. This might be explained by the fact that the best futon mattress for sleeping has to be generously stuffed to deliver optimal support and cradling. And such models aren’t very easy to come by. Nonetheless, a futon mattress can be an excellent solution in certain situations, especially for smaller rooms.

Regular Mattresses Explained

When comparing futons vs. mattresses side by side, it’s easy to see that regular mattresses typically have a more complex construction. They are thicker and use multiple layers to deliver sturdier support and more cushioning. 

Here are the examples of common mattress types:

  • Innerspring. Spring mattresses use steel coils to deliver bouncy support. Usually, there’s also a thin layer of padding on top (foam, wool, or fibers). Innerspring mattresses are responsive and usually have strong edges, which gives sleepers more space. They also don’t allow for heat accumulation, as the air can circulate freely through the coils. At the same time, innerspring mattresses are not ideal for partners. They are bouncy and can cause disturbances when one of the sleepers moves in bed. Additionally, spring beds aren’t ideal for pressure relief (simply because they don’t use enough padding to offer proper tension alleviation). 
  • Foam. These mattresses can use either memory foam or polyfoam. Regardless of the type, foam is very adaptive. It adjusts to the body’s shape, hugs the protruding parts, and fills in the gaps. That’s why foam mattresses can help with even weight and tension redistribution. Additionally, because foam moves slowly, it works great for couples who don’t want to disturb each other during sleep. On the other hand, foam mattresses can sleep hot. Therefore, it’s better to choose cooling models (open-cell or gel-infused foams). 
  • Latex. These mattresses are made using latex foam derived from the rubber tree sap. There are also synthetic latex mattresses available on the market. Natural or synthetic, latex is adaptive and does an excellent job relieving tension. This material is also very durable and isn’t likely to cause heat build-up. Nonetheless, latex mattresses tend to be among the most expensive ones and might not work for all shoppers.
  • Hybrid. As the name suggests, these mattresses combine various materials. Typically, they use wrapped coils for support and either foam or latex for the comfort layers. Hybrid mattresses are tall and often bulky, but they have a very balanced feel. The harmonious combination of support and pressure relief makes hybrid models very popular among shoppers who want to get the best from all materials. That being said, readers need to remember that hybrid mattresses can be rather pricey.

To tell the truth, the market is overfilled with models suited for any taste. That’s why it can be challenging to find a truly comfortable mattress (like the options we have gathered here). That being said, a good mattress can be a real game-changer for one’s sleep quality and back health. Therefore, sifting through the countless options to find one’s perfect match might be worth the effort.

Futons vs. Mattresses: Main Differences 

Futons and regular mattresses are rather different visually: the former are usually thinner. Additionally, futons can be rolled up for convenient storage or folded to be used as a couch. With regular mattresses, that’s not possible. Therefore, when looking at the futon vs. bed comparison, it’s clear that futons are much more space-saving than regular beds.

Another huge difference is the price. Because futons are thinner and don’t use as much material as mattresses, they are significantly cheaper. Plus, a futon can serve a dual purpose: a couch when folded and a bed when flattened out. This can also help users save money, as they don’t have to buy two pieces of furniture.

Now, comparing futons vs. beds, it’s also crucial to remember that regular beds are likelier to provide better support. Futons are thinner and don’t typically have a multi-layered construction. Therefore, they aren’t as supportive and don’t usually work for heavier sleepers. Larger folks might want to invest in a good, firm mattress (like the ones we’ve gathered here) that can keep the body aligned properly instead of letting it sink in. 

Additionally, many futon mattress lack the cradling comfort layers that work to redistribute the tension evenly. This can significantly affect one’s comfort during sleep.

Futons vs. Regular Mattresses: Which One Is Better?


It might be easier for readers to understand which type is better if they look at futon and mattress pros and cons side by side:

Pros

Cons

Futons

  • affordable;

  • can serve as both a sofa and a sleeping spot;

  • easy to store away when needed;

  • don’t take too much space and work well for smaller rooms;

  • can often be easier to clean than regular mattresses.


  • typically thin and can’t always deliver the needed support levels;

  • may wear out faster;

  • not so great in terms of pressure alleviation;

  • are often used on the floor, which isn’t suitable for people with mobility issues.

Mattresses

  • have a multi-layered construction and can typically deliver the optimal combination of support and tension alleviation, resulting in high comfort levels;

  • thicker and more durable;

  • come in an impressive variety of comfort options, types, and sizes;

  • are typically used elevated above the floor, which can work for sleepers with mobility issues.


  • can be rather pricey;

  • can be bulky and take more space in the room;

  • heavy and hard to transport if needed (for example, when moving homes).


Who Will Benefit from Using a Futon?

Here are a few ideas of who might enjoy using a futon:

  • owners of small apartments or studios;
  • people about to move who don’t need something bulky;
  • those who need a budget-friendly solution for their guest room;
  • sleepers who don’t have back issues, chronic pain, or sharp pressure points;
  • shoppers who prefer firmer sleeping surfaces (in this case, a futon on the floor would work well);
  • shoppers on a budget. 

Who Should Buy a Regular Mattress?

Here are the examples of people who might want to choose a regular mattress over a futon:

  • sleepers with limited mobility;
  • sleepers with back pain or any other health issues;
  • shoppers who don’t mind spending a bit more on their bedroom accessories;
  • those who want decent support during sleep;
  • shoppers who appreciate increased variety;
  • sleepers who have specific comfort preferences.

F.A.Q.

Is there a difference between a futon mattress and a regular mattress?

Yes, futon mattresses are typically thinner than regular mattresses and thus, aren’t as comfortable in most cases.

Is it bad to sleep on a futon every night?

It’s okay to sleep on a futon every night as long as it can provide optimal support and cushioning for the sleeper to feel comfortable and tension-free.

Is a futon better than a foam mattress?

In most cases, foam mattresses are more suited for regular sleep than futons. They are thicker, typically have a sturdy support base, and come with cradling comfort foams on top. Futons, on the other hand, are usually thinner and don’t have a multi-layered construction. Therefore, regular foam mattresses are better for restful sleep in most cases.

Summary

Choosing between a futon and a regular mattress shouldn’t be hard for readers when they know what each mattress type has to offer. For instance, futons work well in smaller spaces, and regular mattresses are better suited for sleepers with certain comfort requirements. Whatever the case is, there are countless options to choose from, so each sleeper can find something that works for them.

How about you? Do you think a futon mattress would be perfect for you? Or are you thinking about investing in a regular one? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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