Futon Vs Mattress FAQ

Deciding whether to buy a futon or a mattress may be more important than it seems.

What's the difference between a futon and a mattress?

Futon Vs Mattress FAQFuton Vs Mattress FAQ
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a lack of rejuvenating sleep reduces productivity, increases risk of injury, and makes getting along with others more difficult. People spend more than one third of their lives asleep, so the question of how one sleeps, and on what, is a serious one.

The futon descends from the cotton-filled mattresses used by the Babylonians, Mesopotamians, and Egyptians. The word itself is derived from a Japanese word meaning bedding. Modern futons in the U.S. have largely replaced cotton with materials that maintain their spring, such as fluffy polyesters and high-density foam, and are placed on pliable wooden or metal frames.

Though Romans began sleeping on feather beds as far back as 200 B.C., steel coils used in modern mattresses were not patented until 1865. Most mattresses are placed on a platform or a box spring to be further from the ground.

What are futons used for?

The attraction of futons stems largely from their versatility. They are easily converted from sofas to beds and consequently useful in living rooms, home offices and college dorms. Most futon mattresses feature a removable and/or replaceable cover.

What are mattresses used for?

Traditional mattress frames typically weigh considerably more than futon frames and serve a single purpose. The mattress's upholstery layers offer cushioning and comfort. Steel coil springs of the mattress core support the sleeper's body. The gauge of the coils determines support and firmness, with lower-gauged coils feeling firmer.

How much does price vary?

Futons are usually cheaper than traditional beds. Futon prices, including frames, range from $150 to $600.

Steel-coil mattresses start at roughly $300 and can surpass $1000 for high-quality models. Bed frames are an additional expense, with price varying widely according to materials and quality.

What is the best option for me?

Although prices run the gamut, mattress comfort remains a personal decision. A steel coil mattress's internal engineering is more complicated than the simple futon, but size, firmness, and personal comfort diverge to such an extent that a "best" option simply does not exist.

To choose a mattress--either traditional or futon--decide what is personally comfortable, how much space is available, and what is an appropriate price for you.

About the Author

Skyler Springsteen began writing for websites such as eHow and Trails Travel while living in Peru in 2009. She is a 2008 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Wyoming, where she studied journalism and Spanish. She recently began a Master of Philosophy program in historical studies at the University of Cambridge.