Sleeper Sofa vs. Futon – Which Is Better?

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A sleeper sofa or a futon is a great addition to your home, in case your family or friends are often visiting for a few consecutive days. If your space is limited, 2-in-1 furniture will greatly help optimize the space. The question is if you should choose a sleeper sofa or a futon?

Sleeper sofas – a closer look

Gray sleeper sofa with a chaiselong
Sleeper sofas come in many shapes and sizes. See more examples on Amazon.

Sleeper sofas are also known as sofa beds. They are a piece of furniture that is used as a couch for sitting during the day and can double as a bed at night. They are specifically designed for this dual purpose and some manufacturers even have sleeper sectionals so you can transform part of your sectional into a bed. You can even cover the mattress with real bed sheets so the person who will be using it can sleep comfortably.

Pros

  • Sleeper sofas look like standard sofas or sectionals and are very comfortable to use.
  • Sleeper sofas come with real mattresses (separate from where people sit on during the day).
  • They also have a bigger sleeping space, especially if you get a sleeper sectional.
  • It’s not immediately obvious that you have an extra bed in your living room.
  • Sleeper sofas make the room look more “grown-up”.
  • There are various kinds of styles, types, and designs and you’ll definitely be able to find something that matches your living room decor.

Cons

  • Sleeper sofas are usually more expensive than futons (urban sofa beds).
  • They take up a lot more space and are heavier and bulkier.
  • Sleeper sofas have thinner mattresses as compared to those on standard beds.
  • Unless you have plenty of room, it can be difficult to pull out the mattress without having to arrange the furniture in front of your sleeper sofa.

Futons – a closer look

Green futon
Futons usually have a simple design with plenty of storage space underneath. See more examples on Amazon.

Futons are just like sleeper sofas in the sense that they can be used to sit on during the day and then converted into a sleeping space at night. Contrary to the opinion that they are only suitable for dorm rooms and basements, futons can be stylish and comfortable and perfect for your living room. They come with various designs and folding mechanisms and are more compact, so you can add them to your living room instead of getting rid of your current sofa for a bigger one.

Pros

  • Futons are compact and lightweight, making them easy to move around or add to your living room even when you already have a sofa.
  • They are affordable and come with various stylish, unique designs.
  • It’s easy to transform the futon from a sofa to a bed and back to a sofa again.
  • A futon is great to have in case you have unexpected guests because you can quickly convert it into an extra bed.
  • Futons don’t take that much space in a room.

Cons

  • While futons do come in various designs, fabric and style options are often limited as compared to sofas and sleeper sofas.
  • A futon’s sleeping surface is the same as its sitting surface.
  • Futons are smaller, thus they come with a smaller sleeping area.
  • You might find it slightly difficult to add bedding to your futon.
  • Futons aren’t very comfortable as their metal frame and thinner mattress can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult.
  • Futons have a more casual look.

Sleeper sofas vs. futons – key differences explained

The main difference between a sleeper sofa and a futon is the mattress used for sleeping.

During the day when the sleeper sofa is being used for sitting, the mattress remains hidden underneath the couch. The mattress for the futon, on the other hand, is the same for both sitting or sleeping.

When in sofa mode, a sleeper sofa looks just like a traditional couch. They are often fully upholstered and come with thick cushions and armrests. When turning your sleeper sofa into a bed, you have to remove the top seat cushions to reveal the top of the bed frame, which you can pull or fold out to reveal the mattress.

A futon, on the other hand, may appear quite different from sofas. They are often not fully upholstered and some models don’t even have armrests. To turn a futon into a bed, you simply have to press the back of the futon down for the cushion to become the mattress. To turn it back into a sitting position, you simply have to push or fold it back up.

Are sleeper sofas and futons better than a bed?

At the end of a long tiring day, all you want to do is to climb into bed comfortably and get a good night’s sleep. A thick, comfy mattress and sturdy frame contribute to how comfortable a bed is. Between a real bed and sleeper sofas or futons, if you want to be really comfortable and get a good night’s sleep, you’re still better off with a regular bed.

Nevertheless, some sleeper sofas come pretty close in terms of comfort. You just need to find a sleeper sofa with a thicker mattress and a wider bed space (because of the way they are built, futons have thinner mattresses and a narrower beds pace). Keep in mind that, in the long run, the mattress of your sleeper sofa will wear and become thin too.

Can you sleep on a sleeper sofa or a futon every night?

Yes. Whether you sleep on a sleeper sofa or futon or regular bed, you can still get a good night’s sleep. There are so many more factors to getting a good night’s sleep that go beyond the kind of bed you have. Cancer.org lists some of them (source):

  1. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
  2. Don’t take naps after 3 p.m., and don’t nap longer than 20 minutes.
  3. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
  4. Avoid nicotine completely.
  5. Get regular exercise, but not within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
  6. Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime is OK.
  7. Make your bedroom comfortable, dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold.
  8. Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep (for example, reading or listening to music). Turn off the TV and other screens at least an hour before bedtime.
  9. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something calming until you feel sleepy, like reading or listening to soft music.
  10. Talk with a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.

Which is most comfortable: sleeper sofa or futon?

A sleeper sofa and a futon have similar functions—they serve as a sitting space in the mornings and can be converted into beds at night. Nevertheless, they are also very different, especially in terms of the kind of sleeping space they offer.

If you have to get one or the other and are trying to decide which one to get in terms of coziness and comfort, a sleeper sofa is the more comfortable choice. That’s because it comes in various types and usually has an actual foam and spring mattress. A futon, however, comes with just a foam mattress and can be less comfortable.

Sleeper sofas are also higher off the ground so they are easier to get in and out of without exerting too much effort. Futons need a little push or fold to convert them into beds but their metal frame and thin mattress aren’t always very comfortable.