Can You Sleep On a Futon Every Night? (Full Guide)


This article has been researched and reviewed by Stephanie Abi Zeid (Embryologist, Andrologist, B.S, MSc) for factual accuracy.

A futon is a type of mattress that can be folded out to use as a bed.

But can you sleep on a futon every night?

You can sleep on a futon every night without issue if the mattress and frame provides enough support, pressure relief, and comfort. However, the low-profile of some futon beds may make them unsuitable for pregnant women, the elderly, and people with poor mobility.

The rest of this article weighs the pros and cons of sleeping on a futon, plus how to sleep comfortably on a futon every night in more detail.

If you’ve yet to buy your futon, then have a look at the best western and Japanese futons to buy here, which also includes some variations like futon bunk beds and futon corner sofas for more specific needs.

Alternatively: if you don’t want to sleep on a futon then check out my list of the best mattresses to buy online for some high-quality alternatives.

Should You Sleep on a Futon Every Night?

Sleeping on a futon every night is not problematic as long as you have sufficient support and cushioning.

However, deciding whether or not you should sleep on a futon every night is a highly personal choice.

Therefore, I have gathered information and provided answers in regards to who should consider using a futon and who should probably stick to a regular bed or mattress below.

What is a Futon?

A futon was originally designed to be laid on the floor and used as a primary bed in Japan.

Nowadays, a futon refers to a mattress that sits on a light frame, which can fold down into a bed or up into a sofa – known as a futon sofa sleeper.

Unlike regular mattresses, futons are firmer but thinner so they can be folded out and stored away, leaving more floor space in the room.

They accommodate extra sleepers whenever needed and can be used as a couch in an office or in any small room. 

Futons are available in a variety of sizes, materials, and thicknesses.

Most futon mattresses are about 6 inches thick and are filled with cotton and/or foam to create a firm and flexible surface.

You can find other futon mattresses that are made of foam, polyester, wool, inner springs, memory foam, or any combination of these. 

6 Benefits of Sleeping on a Futon

Below is a list of 6 potential benefits of sleeping on a futon:

1: Futons Are Space-Saving Beds

Futons are designed to save space in your room.

Because of their sizes and compactness, futons are great bed options for places with space constraints such as small apartments, studios, dorms, and offices where larger beds cannot fit.  

When a futon is in its sofa mode, the futon frame is folded up, which leaves you more floor space and a bigger room layout. 

2: Futons Are Multifunctional Beds

Futons are versatile furniture, which provide both a sleeping and a seating surface.

They serve as a couch during the day and convert into a bed at night.

Not only do they accommodate surprise guests, but they also create a dual-purpose room.

Simply fold the futon frame up or down depending on what you need. 

3: Futons Are Portable

Futon mattresses are lighter and thinner than regular mattresses, which makes them easier to move.

Their frames are also lightweight and can be stored away and transported to different rooms or locations, which makes futons suitable for campers or travelers.

Keep in mind that thicker mattresses are more difficult to fold and to move. 

4: Futons May Reduce Back Pain in Some Sleepers

Futons are typically firmer than regular mattresses, which can ensure an even weight distribution while keeping a neutral spine alignment, which may help prevent back problems in some sleepers [1] – especially if you sleep on your front or back.

5: Futons Are Versatile Mattresses

Futons are versatile because they are available in different sizes, materials, and shapes.

For example, you can select a queen, a full, a twin, and even a chair size futon.

The materials vary between cotton, wool, foam, polyester, innerspring, and latex.

Each material has its benefits, with some potential drawbacks:

  • Cotton is light and makes it easy for the mattress to fold, but it tends to flatten out and needs fluffing.
  • Wool is a great material for temperature regulation.
  • Foams, especially memory foam futons, can mold slowly to the shape of your body for more adaptive comfort.
  • Polyester may prolong the lifespan of your mattress and retains its shape over time.
  • Innerspring futons provide comfort by isolating motion transfer, but they tend to wear under frequent pressure.

Bear in mind that you can even add an extra cushioning layer on top of the futon to attain your desired level of comfort.    

6: Futons May Diminish Allergic Reactions

Futons are better laid on top of a slatted frame.

The slats raise the mattress off the ground where dust and moisture often accumulate and can therefore prevent moisture, dirt, and bacteria from being trapped inside the mattress.

Also, the slats allow proper air ventilation around the futon, which improve the breathability of the mattress and hence the freshness and quality of your sleep. 

Furthermore, some futons can be hypoallergenic and are potentially effective in reducing mite allergens [2].

4 Drawbacks to Sleeping on a Futon

Here are 4 cons to sleeping on a futon:

1: Futons Can Become Lumpy Over Time

Although the mechanism of transitioning a futon from a couch to a bed is easy, the futon can start showing signs of wear over time from being repeatedly folded and unfolded.

Cotton-filled mattresses can flatten out over time and become lumpy due to frequently applied pressure, and therefore require maintenance like being regularly flipped and fluffed up. 

2: Futons May Be Less Comfortable for Side Sleepers

Futons may be too firm for people with curvier bodies and side sleepers – potentially causing an uneven weight distribution whereby the bodyweight is concentrated on the shoulder and hip.

However, you can adjust the level of firmness of the futon by choosing a thicker futon or by adding an extra cushioning layer on top to relieve your pressure points.   

3: Futons Can Take Time to Get Used To

Futons are generally thinner than regular mattresses and have a different feel.

Therefore, it usually takes a week or so to get used to sleeping on them, especially for sleepers with multiple sleeping positions. 

4: Futons Sit Low to the Ground

A traditional futon that is designed to be laid on the floor rather than over a frame makes it difficult for pregnant women, the elderly, and people with poor mobility to get in and out of the bed [3].   

Is Sleeping on a Futon Every Night Right for You?

Sleeping on a futon every night is a highly personal choice because when it comes to sleep, it is essential to choose a sleeping surface that best fits your body, budget, and comfort level. 

Who Can Benefit from Sleeping on a Futon?

Sleeping on a futon can be especially beneficial for back sleepers, patients with poor blood circulation, and those suffering from sciatica – pain that radiates from the lower back towards the leg. 

Sleeping on a futon is also beneficial for campers and travellers who move out often.

A futon is always a good option for people with limited spaces and more residents to sleep in.

It also suits minimalist sleepers and those who like multi-purpose furniture – like using the futon as both a sleeping and a seating surface. 

Who Should Avoid Sleeping on a Futon?

Futons are not suitable for people who need a high profile bed to get in and out easily, like the elderly, people with limited mobility, and pregnant women – whilst side sleepers may also find some futons to provide insufficient pressure relief.

How to Sleep Comfortably on a Futon Every Night 

A futon is not comfortable for everyone to sleep on but there are ways to adjust the firmness level of a futon for you to sleep more comfortably on it. 

To sleep comfortably on a futon every night, opt for a frame with slats that are no more than 3 inches apart, then add a mattress topper on top of your futon – you can add a comforter or an air mattress instead, but if it’s still uncomfortable then adjust the amount of fluff inside or simply replace your futon mattress. 

Below are the exact steps you should take to soften your futon and make it more comfortable:

1: Opt for a High-Quality Slatted Frame

Futons fit best with a strong base like slats, which provide proper air ventilation around the futon mattress.

Proper airflow increases the mattress’s breathability and prevents moisture from being trapped underneath.

Make sure that the slats are no more than 3 inches apart to prevent the futon mattress from sagging between the slats and hurt your back. 

2: Add a Mattress Topper 

A mattress topper is an extra cushioning layer that adjusts the firmness of a mattress.

So add a mattress topper on top of your futon mattress or inside the futon cover and hold them in place with a fitted sheet.

The mattress topper will soften or harden your sleeping surface in order to meet your needs.

You can also layer a comforter or a featherbed on top of your futon for extra softness and warmth, or an air mattress for increased support and an extra bit of height.  

3: Adjust the Amount of Fluff Inside the Futon Mattress

If your futon is still uncomfortable, then try adjusting the amount of stuffing inside the futon by pulling some out or shoving extra stuffing inside.

Flip your futon mattress 180 degrees frequently and fluff it up by folding and unfolding it in order to maintain its shape for longer. 

4: Replace Your Futon

If you are still unsatisfied with the comfort level of your futon, then consider changing your futon.

Different compositions and thicknesses can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep if you already know what your body needs for a restful sleep.   

Conclusion: A Versatile Bed

Sleeping on a futon every night is only comfortable if the futon provides enough support to your body.

A futon can accommodate extra sleepers in small spaces and can convert from a couch to a bed and vice versa. 

The use of firm mattresses like futons may be beneficial for people with certain health conditions such as back problems and sciatica.

However, sleeping on a futon is not recommended for people who need a higher bed like the elderly and those with mobility problems. 

You can sleep on a futon every night if it cushions your body and doesn’t harm the quality of your sleep.

Alternatively, click the button below to see some of the best futon mattress alternatives to buy online now.

Sources and References

[1] Science Direct – Effect Of Different Mattress Designs On Promoting Sleep Quality, Pain Reduction, And Spinal Alignment In Adults With Or Without Back Pain; Systematic Review Of Controlled Trials. Accessed 28/11/20.

[2] Europe PMC – A Study On Preventive Effects Of Mite Allergens By Specially-Fabricated Futons With Anti-Mite Treatments. Accessed 28/11/20.

[3] PubMed – Comparison Of Three Methods For Raising An Elderly Person From A Traditional Futon Mattress. Accessed 28/11/20.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Sofa Bed and Cute Cushions’ by VenusPhoto (Getty Images Pro), used with permission under Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.