In this article, I will talk about both the American futon mattress and the Japanese traditional shiki futon (also known as a roll up futon mattress). I will also point out which one is suitable for sleeping, even if you have back pain problems.
A western futon is a versatile couch that can be flattened out as a twin or queen bed. Due to possible frequent flipping, an American futon mattress is likely to wear and tear.
Therefore, American futon mattresses are often cheap, or say, very affordable. However, a high quality futon mattress can last for years.
If you are looking for a western futon set (including the couch frame and the mattress), check my article about the best futon beds on Amazon.
Meanwhile, the Japanese futon is a thinner cushion. The Japanese puts it on the ground or on a tatami mat, and sleep on it.
To know how sleeping on a Japanese futon mattress is good for your spine and the best ones on Amazon, read my other article about the 10 best Japanese futon mattresses.
What makes the best futon mattress for you? (the NUM buying guide)
If you are looking for the most comfortable futon mattress, keep in mind the following.
Not all futon mattresses are the same.
And not all people need the same futon mattress.
What makes the best futon mattress depends on you and yourself.
So, keep reading to see my NUM buying guide – Needs, Usage Frequency, and Maintenance
Are you looking for an American futon mattress that is
- often thick and suits the taste of western culture
- convertible between a chair and a bed
- a couch by day, and a guest bed by night
Or are you looking for a Japanese futon that is
- made for sleeping on the floor –> good for your back
- also good as a mattress topper to make your American futon more comfortable
- lightweight that can roll up to easily store away when not needed
- portable (if you move a lot, this is for you!)
- can also be a guest bed
In this article, I will show you the top candidates from both of these categories.
For the American futon mattress, you should consider the following questions.
Are you gonna sleep on the futon most of the time?
If yes, buy a higher-quality and thicker mattress that gives plenty of support.
A firm and dense mattress or a memory foam one is best for spinal alignment.
A memory foam mattress or an individually encased spring mattress relieves pressure points such as your shoulders and hips.
How often do you flip the futon between a sleeper and a seater?
If frequent, buy a mattress that is divided in 2 sections so that you can bend it easily.
If the mattress is not sectioned, you will struggle bending it back to the sitting position. Moreover, the mattress filling will crease and tear at the fold over time.
Meanwhile, the Japanese futon is quite straightforward. You can use it daily as long as you are used to sleeping on a firmer mattress or surface.
The American futon mattress needs less maintenance. Some with good outer fabric lets you wipe off dust easily.
You don’t need to beat the mattress to fluff it up. However, the downfall is the mattress will lose its shape over time of use, depending on the quality of the filling and of the quilting.
On the other hand, to use the Japanese futon, you will have to air it out under the sun every week or every other week for it to fluff up.
Otherwise, it can be as thin as 1 inch thick.
If you still have questions, read the FAQ section at the end or leave a comment below. I will get back to you as soon as possible.
This American futon mattress is the best if you are looking for a thick, soft and supporting bed. It provides contouring support, relieving pressure points to give you a good night sleep, even if you have back pain.
- Lots of people have bought it (3,552 ratings, 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon)
- Provides contouring support, relieving pressure points
- Mattress for back pain problems
- No motion transfer
- Ships flat and rolled
- Hard to fold the mattress from sleeper to seater
- Not ideal for folding and unfolding daily
- Just the mattress. Frame not included
- Fits any full-sized futon frame
- Filling: Polyester and foam
- CertiPUR-US certified high-density foam
- Mattress dimensions: 75 in L x 54 in W x 8 in H
- Sleeper dimension: full size
This mattress is good for sleeping, even for a 300 lbs + person
Independently encased coils, or pocketed coils, of this mattress contours to the curves of your body and, hence, relieves pressure points. This also means it’s good for your spinal alignment.
This is because, each coil works independently, supporting your body based on body regions’ weight.
With that being said, if you have back pain, consider this mattress.
No motion transfer
Thanks to the pocketed coils, again, this mattress does not transfer motion.
That means your partner will not feel any motion during the night even if you bounce on the mattress.
Down fall: not designed for converting
This mattress is not split into 2 halves like other mattresses in futon sets. Customers have been reporting it is very hard to fold it from a sleeper back to a seater.
After folding this mattress back and forth between the two positions daily for a while, the mattress starts to separate in the middle, exposing the springs.
There are other reviews that say the springs also come through the foam over time.
2. Classic Brands 8-Inch Futon Mattress with Independently Encased Innerspring Coils (Best customer service)
This futon mattress is of high quality and style. And it is the best for customer service. The firm mattress is beneficial for spinal alignment. If you wish to make it softer, scroll down to the bottom and read my FAQ section.
- Firm, good support (customer who weighs 200lbs can sleep comfortably on this)
- Cover removable
- Good customer service (Should you have concerns, they will reply telling you to call them)
- Ships flat and rolled (compact)
- Limited colors
- Like the DHP one, not designed for flipping frequently
- Individually wrapped coil innerspring
- Sturdy microfiber polyester cover with quality foam
- Easy to keep clean, wipe with damp cloth
- 8-Inch futon mattress fits any standard Full futon frame
This futon set is the best for value.
This authentic Japanese set comes with a futon (shikifuton), a comforter (kakebuton), and a pillow.
Therefore, if you want to feel like you are in Japan, this is a must-have.
- Can be used as a mattress topper or a floor futon
- Good for spinal alignment and back pain when used on the floor or a tatami mat
- Light weight
- Can roll up and store away
- Compact packaging
- Laid on floor: Firm, good for spinal alignment (compare with cheap foam mattresses that lose their forms over time)
- Will have to air it out every week to fluff it up
- Maybe thin if you want softer bed
- (check out my pro tip in the FAQ section on how to make the futon more comfortable)
- Will need to buy covers
- Comes with a Comforter (Kakebuton), a Futon Mattress (Shikibuton) and a Pillow.
- Available in Compact single and Compact Twin Size
- Product Dimensions for a Compact Twin Size:
- Comforter (Kakebuton): 59.07 x 78.77 in. (150 x 200 cm) Weight: 2.65 lb
- Futon Mattress (Shikibuton): 37.41 x 76.80 in (95 x 195 cm) Weight: 5.51 lb
- Pillow: 16.93 x 24.81 in. (43 x 63 cm) Weight: 0.88 lb
- Fabric: 100% Cotton, 200 Thread Count Cotton Broadcloth
- Stuffing: 100% Polyester
- Authentic Japanese
This Japanese shikifuton is the most comfortable futon mattress for sleeping on the floor. Thanks to its special sandwich quilting technique, the high density foam pad can cushion better.
- Good cushioning
- Foldable, lightweight, and portable
- Ships flat and rolled
- Will have to fluff it up by airing the futon on a sunny day regularly.
- High density polyester pad
- Outer fabric is 100% cotton.
- This sandwich structure provides you good cushioning
- Available from Twin to King size
- Product specifications for Twin size:
- Dimensions: 39 x 79 in (100 x 200cm)
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Made in Japan
This futon is best for camping with its dense filling, dust proof cover, and other accessories. Lightweight and portable, you can easily roll it up and store away when not using, or bring it with you on road trips.
- Comes with a dust proof cover
- Dense filling, giving support, very comfy
- Size may differ (manufacturing problems)
- Comes with a tote bag to carry around, but it rips easily
- Dust proof cover with patterns: 100% Cotton
- Filling Material: Cotton + Memory Foam
- Avaliable in Twin to King
- Product specifications for twin size:
- Dimensions: 4″ thick x 39″ wide x 80″ long
- Weight: 10 lbs
- Set includes: 1 futon mattress, 1 same color mattress dust proof cover, 1 pair of bandage, 1 canvas storage bag.
With the dust proof cover, you can extend the durability of the mattress.
Before quilting is 17cm thickness. After is over 10cm (nearly 4in). → High density
- As a mattress topper (on a couch), makes the guest bed more comfortable
- On the floor or a tatami mat, good for spinal alignment and back pains
- Light weight
- Can roll up and store away
- Thinner than advertised
- You will have to hang in sunlight and beat it weekly to make it fluff
- Will need to buy a cover
- Made in Japan
- Packaged in a reuseable vacuum bag
- Product Size: Twin to Full XL (read the product size of each, may be different from standard US sizes)
- Packing size: 29″ x 40″ x 2-1/2″
- Fabric: 100% Cotton. Stuffing: 100% Polyester
- Weight: 10 pounds
This futon is not like a western futon where you can sink in and enjoy the soft embrace of the mattress.
It is a thin layer of cushion, meant to be placed on a hard surface (a tatami mat or even the floor).
Sleeping like this is actually good for you spinal alignment, and in the long run, keeps you a way from back pains.
The cushion is still soft to relieve some pressure at contact points such as your hips and shoulders.
It may take you time to get used to sleeping on hard ground. But if you are okay with sleeping on a sleeping bag, you will be okay sleeping on this futon too.
This futon mattress looks sleek if you don’t mind the white tuft. It provides medium support, hence, is not the best for daily sleeping. The biggest plus is it’s a cheap futon mattress.
- Good price
- Medium support
- Motion transfer due to bonnel spring
- The plastic white tuft looks cheap. Better to buy a separate cover.
- Craftsmanship is like a hit or miss based on customer reviews
- Filling: Cotton and Polyester
- 8 inches thick
- Bonnel Spring
- Available in full and queen size
- Constructed with 3 layers of cotton fiber blend that surround the 2, 1″ foam and innerspring unit
- Lace Tufted
- Medium Support
- Made in the USA
This mattress is the thickest in the list – at 10 inches. The middle layer is memory foam that helps it provide more support. Although not as comfy as a memory foam mattress, this mattress is still many people’s favorite for its thickness and comfiness.
- Thick and comfy
- Ships flat and rolled
- Has a chemical odor, which will completely go away after a month
- Not designed for converting
- Harder to bend it into sitting position as it is thicker and heavier
- In sitting position, it can slip off at the bottom → Buy a grip to fix it to the frame
- Outer fabric: Poly-cotton Blend
- Filling: Memory Foam and cotton fiber
- Standard Full Size Mattress – 75″x54″x10″ thick, fits any standard Full size futon frame
- Weight: 47 lbs
What’s my recommendations for the best futon mattress?
If you have a bad back and want to sleep on your futon mattress, consider the DHP western futon and any of the Japanese futons to sleep on the floor.
Among these good futons, the one with the best customer service is Classic Brands western futon.
FAQ about futon mattresses
Is it bad to sleep on a Japanese futon?
It is totally safe, and even beneficial, to sleep on a Japanese futon.
Some people may find sleeping on a thin futon placed on the floor to hard, but it is good for spinal alignment.
In the long run, you will save yourself from back pain problems.
Indeed, many pregnant people also feel most comfortable sleeping on the floor for this reason.
How do I make my Japanese futon more comfortable?
If you are placing your futon on the floor, you may find it too hard.
Traditionally, Japanese people place their futon on a tatami mat, so they won’t lay close to the hard cold ground.
Here is a cheap alternative for you.
You can buy some waffle foam from Walmart and place it under the futon. If you still want it to be softer, simply put another layer of foam in, until you feel comfortable.
Is it bad to sleep on an American futon mattress?
You can also sleep on an American futon mattress as long as it is a high-quality and high-density foam mattress.
However, if it is a cheap, thin and low-density mattress, you might feel the frame of the futon underneath. The saggy, shifted foam might also cause body pain.
Therefore, it is worth it to invest in a higher quality futon if you want to sleep on it regularly.
How do I make my American futon more comfortable?
You can work around a lower quality futon by putting a mattress topper on top of it.
It can be a Japanese futon or similar, which is easy to fold and store away.
My futon is too hard. How do I make it softer?
For a hard American futon, you can put a softer mattress topper on top of it. This can be something like a comforter, a real topper, or a Japanese futon
For a thin Japanese futon which makes it too hard to sleep on the floor, you can buy a tatami mat to place underneath. A cheap (but not that aesthetic) alternative is buying waffle foam from the supermarkets.
If you have any suggestions for futon mattresses, both American and Japanese, comment below to help other readers find their right product.