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Mattress vs. Futon: Ultimate Comparison Guide

September 20, 2022

Mattress vs. Futon: Ultimate Comparison Guide

You spend approximately  of your day in bed, so it’s important to give yourself the best mattress to help you snooze safely and sound. While many shoppers look for the best mattress material, others search for more efficient options like a futon mattress.

A futon mattress is an exceptional option if you're opting for a sleep solution that can fit into your smaller space. With its flexible design, you're also guaranteed to fit more purpose into your small footprint.

If you’re on the lookout for the best sleeping surface, check out this extensive guide to futons and mattresses.

 

What is a Futon?

What is a Futon?

A futon is a Japanese term that describes a mat or a cushion filled with cotton or leaves. A Japanese futon is a quilted mattress that is pliable enough to be easily rolled and stored during the day. It can also be easily assembled for the night's use due to its structure.

Traditional Japanese futons were used as sleeping solutions for small spaces with big families to help the room serve multiple purposes.

 

Types of Futons

Traditional Japanese Futon

Traditional Japanese Futon

A traditional Japanese futon is a bedding system rather than a mattress itself. It is made of cotton or wool with layers of padding for comfort. Unlike many traditional mattresses, a Japanese futon does not have springs. It consists of three layers: the base layer (shikibuton), the mattress layer, and the comforter (kakebuton) or blanket (moku). This is ideally positioned on a tatami floor or a tatami mat to retain the heat and comfort of the sleep surface.

Japanese futons are two to three inches thick and rectangular in design. Pillows (makura) are also featured in the setup for added comfort. These pillows are often filled with buckwheat, beans, or beads.

Traditional Japanese futons were originally filled with cotton, but many modern futons welcome foam materials.

Western Futon Mattress

Western Futon Mattress

Western futon mattresses are quite different from traditional futons. Instead of being a thin and layered sleep solution, a western style futon comes with a frame, typically made of wood or metal, that can be converted into a seat or a mattress base. Western style futons look more like sofa beds than traditional mattresses.

Western futons weren't spectacularly designed at first but were later developed to be more stylish and comfortable.

Bifold Futon Frame

Bifold Futon Frame

A bifold futon is ideal for those with less floor area but more wall space. This frame allows more people to sit comfortably when converted in its sofa-like structure. It is a great option for living rooms, guest rooms, studios, and other compact spaces you want to maximise.

Bifold futon frames are generally easier to convert than trifold futons.

Trifold Futon Frame

Trifold Futon Frame

Trifold futons are very comfortable sleeping and lounging solutions. If you have more floor space, a trifold futon can provide you with an extra area to extend your legs when lounging or a cosy spot to rest on when fully converted into a bed. When unfolded, a trifold futon will take more space than a bifold frame, so it's important to get your measurements and plan your arrangement well to make sure a fully converted trifold futon will snugly fit your space.

 

Are Futons Comfortable?

Are Futons Comfortable?

Benefits of a Japanese Futon

  • A Japanese futon bed creates a multi-purpose area.

  • A Japanese futon is safe to use for restless sleepers.

  • Japanese futons are firm enough and very supportive.

  • A Japanese futon can help make a small area look larger.

 

Drawbacks of a Japanese Futon

  • The cotton material absorbs moisture from perspiration, so it's important to air the futon mattress out regularly.

  • Many sleepers may find it difficult to roll and store their futon mattresses on a daily basis.

  • A futon mattress requires a big closet or storage space.

  • Japanese futons are thinner than regular mattresses and may not be the perfect choice for those who prefer a taller sleep base.

 

Benefits of a Western Futon

  • Modern futons are now designed to be as strong as regular couches and are sturdy enough to support your sleeping needs.

  • Futons can work as your couch and extra sleep space for guests.

  • Futons come in a variety of styles, which are perfect for many interior themes.

     

Drawbacks of a Western Futon

  • The futon mattress is not as thick as a regular mattress.

  • Converting a futon can be a hassle for many users.

  • Although great for space saving, a futon will still require a lot of space when converted into a mattress.

 

Is a Mattress Better?

Is a Mattress Better?

Many of us are sleeping on regular mattresses. Although mattresses have been around for many years, they have come a long way in terms of comfort, support, and durability. In this day, mattress manufacturers even introduce innovative hybrid mattresses that combine the benefits of the usual materials that we love.

 

Types of Traditional Mattresses

Like futons, mattresses also come in many types. Here are some common varieties you can see on the market.

Polyurethane Foam Mattress

Polyurethane Foam Mattress

Polyurethane foam mattresses, or polyfoam mattresses, are the least expensive mattress varieties on the market. Polyurethane is derived from petrochemicals and is present in many products like mattress toppers or home furniture cushions. Polyurethane foam mattresses come in more affordable price ranges but do not provide the optimum support the body needs during rest.

Memory Foam Mattress

Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam is created from a combination of polyurethane and other compounds. This mixture gives the memory foam mattress its visco-elastic properties. Memory foam mattresses follow the natural contours of the body through heat. This provides the right back and joint support for many sleepers.

Latex Mattress

Latex Mattress

Latex mattresses offer a light and bouncy feel. Many shoppers prefer latex mattresses because they are generally made from natural materials. With their open-cell structure, latex beds are breathable and highly comfortable for hot sleepers. They also provide adequate support for many sleeping positions. Considered the most durable mattresses, latex beds have an average lifespan of 15 years.

Innerspring Mattress

Innerspring Mattress

Many households own innerspring mattresses, which are some of the oldest mattress varieties. These traditional mattresses are composed of inner coils and a foam layer on top. They are thicker and firmer compared to foam mattresses. The coils provide a push-back feel, resulting in a "sleeping on a mattress" sensation.

Some popular innerspring bed types are Bonnell spring, offset coil, continuous coil, and pocketed spring beds.

Hybrid Mattress

Hybrid Mattress

Hybrid mattresses are constructed by layering various bed materials to maximise their advantages. A hybrid bed generally consists of a comfort layer, support core, and a base layer. Other hybrid beds have a pillowtop layer or cooling layers to increase the comfort of the sleep solution.

 

Japanese Futon vs. Standard Mattress: Comparison

Japanese Futon vs. Standard Mattress: Comparison

Materials

Standard mattresses feature foam materials, natural latex, innersprings, or a combination of multiple components. Many innovative mattresses include additional layers that can enhance the comfort of the bed. However, since a standard bed can be comprised of different materials, some of its components release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be potentially harmful for the user.

A Japanese futon is traditionally made from cotton batting and a cover. This material is highly comfortable and breathable. It is also generally safe for the skin, which is an advantage for allergy sufferers. The cotton material is also suitable for babies and those who have asthma.

Versatility

Futons are the champions in terms of versatility. Because of their lightweight design, they can be easily folded and stored inside the cabinet. This will give you enough space to do more things in your small area. A futon mattress is also easy to carry compared to a standard bed.

A bed, on the other hand, presents its versatility in terms of the benefits it provides to the sleeper. Many mattress materials offer multiple benefits.

Back Support

Standard mattresses are specially designed to provide proper back support, especially for sleepers who suffer from back pain. Many mattresses are engineered to fit various sleeping positions to promote proper spinal alignment during sleep.

Futons are also firm enough to offer adequate back support. However, since they are thinner and lighter than traditional mattresses, they also provide limited back support and pressure relief.

Breathability

The breathability of a standard bed depends on its materials. Foam mattresses, for example, may not be as breathable as latex or innerspring mattresses. Hybrid beds are specially designed with gel and open-cell layers to promote better breathability.

Futons are made of cotton materials, which are known for their breathable properties. Aside from this, cotton is also highly absorbent, which is ideal for hot sleepers.

Durability

A standard bed is generally made to last. Depending on the quality of materials and structure, a bed can last anywhere from 6–15 years. Within optimum conditions, a latex bed can even last up to 15-20 years. It is designed to receive body pressure during sleep. However, materials like springs and polyurethane foam may lose their quality earlier than memory foam or latex.

A futon bed also receives regular wear and tear. Unlike a traditional bed, a futon does not hold up to regular wear and tear as efficiently. It may develop lumps overtime, which can affect its support.

Personal Style

Mattresses and futons differ a lot in terms of style. A futon presents a more traditional look, while a mattress gives a room a modern feel. Your choice will be highly dependent on your personal preference and lifestyle.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does a Futon Mattress Last?

How Long Does a Futon Mattress Last?

The average lifespan of a futon is five to ten years with regular use. Futon beds for guest rooms will wear out longer.

How Long Does a Standard Mattress Last?

How Long Does a Standard Mattress Last?

Traditional mattresses have an average lifespan of six to fifteen years, depending on the materials. Innerspring mattresses have an average lifespan of 5-7 years, hybrid mattresses 7-10 years, memory foam beds 8-10 years, and latex mattresses 15 years or more. Like futons, many factors can affect the lifespan of a standard sleeping mattress, like the frequency of usage, original quality, and care routine.

Are Japanese Style Futons Comfortable Enough?

Are Japanese Style Futons Comfortable Enough?

This depends on the quality of the materials. Higher quality materials are thick and supportive enough for both sleeping and sitting. It's important to note that a futon is used when lying on the phone. If you're having a hard time lying on the floor and getting up, a futon may not be your best sleep solution.

 

Japanese Futon vs. Standard Mattress: Which One Do You Need?

Japanese Futon vs. Standard Mattress: Which One Do You Need?

Choose a Futon If:

  • You want to cram more functions into a smaller area.

  • You need an occasional sleeping surface for guests.

  • You want a sleeping surface with a more traditional feel.

  • You prefer a sleep solution that is made from natural materials.

  • You want a breathable and sweat-absorbent bed.

  • You want a bed that does not make noise when you toss and turn.

  • You need a more affordable sleep solution.

 

Choose a Standard Mattress If:

  • You have a specific type of mattress material that you want to sleep on.

  • You prefer sleeping on a bed frame.

  • You prefer a thicker mattress to sleep on.

  • You suffer from back pain and need more support for your sleeping position.

  • You want a sturdier sleep base.

  • You have a bigger area for a bed frame and mattress.

 

Conclusion

Conclusion

Choosing between a futon and a traditional mattress depends on your needs and preferences. There is no one-size-fits-all sleeping solution, and both have their pros and cons, so it's crucial to weigh the advantages that are more important to you. Of course, it's crucial to take your health into consideration as well.

In the end, both sleep solutions are great investments that are worth considering.

 

Looking for a new mattress? Check out Vesper's OEKO-TEX certified mattress and get your 100-night free trial.


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