Maybe it was beneath a bunk bed, maybe it was in a college dorm, or maybe it was in a guest room—at some point or another, many of us have slept on a futon frame. They might not be as common as mattresses (at least in North America), but does that mean one is better than the other?
Not necessarily. A traditional futon is a type of flexible, foldable bed used on the floor or in a frame. Meanwhile, a standard mattress is a firm sleeping surface that can’t be folded and is usually used with a bed frame.1
Which one you should choose largely depends on what you’re using them for, what kind of support you need when you sleep, and how much space you have available—not to mention your personal preferences. Let’s lay out the differences between futons and mattresses so that you can determine which will lead you to sweeter dreams.
Before diving into the futon vs mattress debate, we’d best define and discuss the differences between them. Let’s discover what sets these two sleeping surfaces apart.
Futons originated in Japan, where they were the preferred sleeping method for centuries—and where they are still preferred by many today.2 Laid out on the floor rather than on a bed frame, traditional futons are thin enough to be rolled up and stored in a closet. Because of their flexibility, using this type of traditional futon can turn bedrooms into multi-purpose spaces.
However, Western futons—which we’ll be focusing on here—put their own spin on the Japanese original:3
Just because you can get a good night’s sleep on a futon frame doesn’t make it a standard mattress. There are different types of mattresses you can choose from, such as latex, innerspring, memory foam, and hybrid. But a few common features set them apart from futons:1
The battle of futon mattresses vs regular mattress is really a battle of pros vs cons, and how much weight you put behind each. Let’s view them side by side for a closer look.
Every sleep position comes with its own unique needs, and it’s the sleeping industry’s job to cater to them. So, how well do futons and mattresses score on the comfort and support scales?
It’s the same story with comfort. Thicker, foam-filled futons can be comfortable, but not to the same degree as many a bed mattresses.4 The latter’s layers can make a tangible difference.
When it comes to the storage portion of the futon vs bed question, futons take the cake.
Aside from generally being smaller than mattresses, many futons can be folded into couches, creating more walking space and a place to sit. Not that you can’t sit on a mattress, but headboards aren’t usually as comfortable for sitting upright.
With their size and bulkiness, mattresses only have one real use: as a place to sleep. If you have the room, though, the comfort and dedicated support of a bed mattress like the Nova Hybrid is hard to beat.
Whether you purchase a futon or a mattress, you’re making an investment—one that will likely last you several years. How many years exactly will depend on quality and usage:
No matter how long they last, mattresses generally cost more than futons because they’re more complex to manufacture, come in larger sizes, and can cater to very specific needs. Here’s how the pricing measures up:
Once you’ve determined the other features you need, you can figure out what you’re in the market for and set your budget from there.
This might not be the most important factor, but deciding what option reflects your personal style matters, too.1
More than anything, mattress preferences come down to the best mattress for your body and the kind of support you’re looking for. But mattresses also give you a wide range of options in terms of bed frames, with plenty of metal, wood, and upholstered varieties to suit your style.
But because futons are part-couch, part bed their colors and versatility can create a more flexible living and sleeping space. They’re as much dynamic pieces of furniture as they are places to rest.
From price point to personal preference, there are many factors to consider when deciding what type of bed you’ll rest on every night. For some, the Zoned Support and AirScape technology of a Casper Original Mattress is the answer. For others, the versatility of a futon could be it.
At the end of the day, though, the most important thing to ask yourself is how your choice will affect your sleep quality. At Casper, we understand just how important sleep and mattress warranty can be.
No matter what you choose, our sleep experts can allay any snooze-related concerns and have you happily counting sheep in no time.