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What Is a Futon?

A futon is a type of bed that can be converted, when not in use, into a daytime sofa – and vice versa. 'Futon' is also the Japanese word for 'bed.'

History of the Futon

The futon originated in Japan as a thin mattress meant to be placed directly on the floor or floor mat and which could be rolled up when not in use. When the futon was introduced to Western society, and touted as a firmer, more spine-aligning alternative to traditional American mattresses, the futon grew in popularity. Over time, the futon evolved into thicker, plusher comfort levels and a variety of designs, including pullout bedframes and sofa and bed combinations. In American furniture lexicon today, the futon is often synonymous with the modern sofa sleeper.

What Is the Difference Between a Futon, Sofa Bed and Daybed?

While the terms 'futon, 'sofa bed' and 'daybed' are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them.

A futon sleeper differs from a sofa bed by how the mattress is incorporated into the sofa design itself. In a futon, the cushions for sleeping and the cushions for sitting are the same. In a sofa bed, the mattress usually rests on a separate frame, often built under the sofa seats. In order to convert a sofa bed into a nighttime mattress for sleeping, the bed frame must be pulled out from under the sofa design.

Unlike a futon and a sofa bed or sofa sleeper, a daybed does not 'convert' or 'transform;' a daybed Is simply a furniture design that provides enough seating and cushion area that it can be used for lounging by day – and comfortably sleeping by night.

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