Anyone's kids sleep on a Futon nightly ?

looony2nzFebruary 10, 2008

My son's room has the only access to our backyard. Its an odd shaped room with not much wallspace / walk thru space so when he needed a new bed, we decided that a Futon would make the room "convertible" for him (we can convert it to "couch" mode when we have guests and need to get thru his room out into the back, and just opens up the room / makes for a little more moving around space. - and if he wants when he's older (he's 10 now) he can fold it up when friends are over to hang out. The mattress it came with is "ok" but i figured when he's older / heavier, we could just get a better / thicker mattress.

At first I felt like it was a great idea (and I still think it is) but I wonder how many kids / teens or even adults out there sleep on a futon nightly. My son loves it and sleeps well, I just wonder ??? I am the only one that has their kid sleeping on a futon.



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Hi, I'm writing as someone who spent most of her working life in teaching hospitals, and a lot of that in orthopedic depts, seeing the results of bad habits (among other things). While your son may be happy with his present set-up (kids bounce and can probably sleep on rocks temporarily), what it could be doing to him long term is questionable. It really is best to make sure children at least get the most 'right' things we can provide for them while we can, because that's generally all we can do, and making convenience the reason for not providing the best overnight support for them is really not ideal. Short term, it may not matter a lot, but beyond a few weeks, who knows what sleeping on a futon could do? I wouldn't take advantage of kids' easy-to-please attitudes (or bodies) if I had a choice.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 6:10AM
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I don't get why a futon would be worse than a regular mattress...and I certainly can't see why it would cause long term damage!

My DD has a sofabed (IKEA's Lycksele) with a nice firm mattress and memory foam topper and she's slept on it quite comfortably for almost two years. She wanted her room to be more like a living room during the day, so this works great for her. She opens up the bed to sleep and folds it back to a sofa in the morning. It's quite similar to a futon except it has a regular type of mattress.

The sofabed looks like this when covered (covers in various colors available)

and the frame looks like this

so you can see there is a lot of support under the mattress

The mattress is high density foam and it's held up great these past two years. We had company use her room a couple of times and they loved the way they slept on this mattress.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:16AM
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"except it has a regular type of mattress." - That's the point, it's not a regular mattress, and an adult sleeping on any type of bed for a night or two when visiting is not the same as a young person whose anatomy is not yet fully developed (and is subject to misalignment or generally less than ideal development). Please at least ask your MD about this - I have no personal stake at all in this, just trying to help.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 11:40AM
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Well, aren't futons what was used traditionally in Japan? Do Japanese folks have a higher incidence of back problems? I don't know, I'm just surmising.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 2:40PM
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Our 20 y/o sleeps on one. I've tried it, and like it a little better than our regular bed. MUCH better than a sleeper sofa!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Lightly - you can't take things out of context, and I'm not sure anyhow that most Japanese people today do use futons routinely (or for that matter whether or not they have problems). The point is that young people's bodies are not yet 'hardened' and if you do the wrong thing you live with consequences the rest of your life. It isn't as if most of us over 40 don't already have back problems anyhow - why encourage them any sooner than necessary?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 9:03PM
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futons, real cotton filled japanese ones, are very comfortable. they need to be aired weekly and rotated. also, you should put plywood underneath (don't just let it sit on the slats). i slept on one for several years and liked it very much. didn't like the frame, but loved the futon! i think it is MUCH MUCH better than a sofabed...
another option might be a murphy bed, have you seen that thread? kren

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 11:01AM
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"why encourage them any sooner than necessary?"

No offense, but what's the basis for this statement? Do you 'think' futons are bad for your back, or do you 'know' they are?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 8:39PM
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I don't know that they are, but anything that sounds to me like a temporary 'fix', or something without well thought out construction, which to me looks and feels like a (neat) pile of rags, just doesn't strike me as the ideal thing for growing people. I did say to ask your MD, pediatrician, orthopedic doc, whoever, and I'll say it again... aren't your kids worth being careful about?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 5:32AM
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I have 20+ years working for orthopedic surgeons (including one pediatric orthopod) and have never heard any of them say that anyone shouldn't sleep on a futon. As far as I know, it is a non-issue.

How do I know? I'm the transcriptionist. Chart notes are my life....LOL

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 11:46AM
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Until you've got your MD, I'd wait until someone who has one has commented.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 5:06PM
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supercat_gardener've spent your life in teaching hospitals...but not as a Dr., I presume.
Just wondering what YOUR credentials are for determining what "the right things" are for children.
BTW, my friend's children slept on futons for years. I've never heard that they suffered any negative orthopedic effects.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 9:08PM
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Wow you guys, I am the person who started this thread I never expected the response :) The mattress we have now is fine for a barely 70 lb boy (soaking wet) and is not composed of "rags"...but I do realize we will need to change it as he gets heavier :) All your opinions and comments are helpful, thanks :)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 6:46AM
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Have you thought about getting a trundle bed with standard mattresses? There are different sizes which wouldn't take up any more space then a futon.

Wasn't going to get into the conversation about "sleeping backs". But got to thinking about my kids growing up. We didn't have a lot of money back then and know they were sleeping on used mattresses for years. None have back problems and now in their 40s. One was was in the army for 8 years (including Desert Storm) and can sleep anywhere on a whim. Another worked in Antarctica for 5 years. Neither environment has much for beds or mattresses. I don't deny a good mattress, heck I have to have one.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 8:16AM
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slept on the futon for several i have knee problems. probably not related... ;-)
probably my kids would complain most loudly about the fact that their bedroom was also a hallway at times. not the mattress. kren

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Gawd! All I did was recommend that you check with your MD before having your kids start using them routinely... why is that so terrible? Just because someone else (adult or not) has used them doesn't always mean it's a good idea. But that's all.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 6:25PM
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Your suggestion to check with an MD was actually great and common sense advice and for all I know, you could be right that sleeping on a futon may not be good for kids. It's when you went on to insult a poster who gave her honest opinion ("Until you've got your MD, I'd wait until someone who has one has commented")that you went way beyond merely offering an opinion.
Sarcasm and sanctimony don't add anything valuable to the discussion.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 8:03PM
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Ok... explanation time! The other poster said she was a transcriptionist, and obviously felt she'd picked up a lot of info. on cases in her time. No problem with that at all, a little knowledge can be dangerous though. I've been in the same place as she was, moved up to senior sec'ty in neuro. research depts., and do know how much I Don't know... which is why I said to check with MD's. That's all! I wasn't being sarcastic, and if I did sound sanctimonious, it was because I have a problem with e.g. transcription people (medical or otherwise) thinking they have the answers because they processed someone else's work. So sorry!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 7:16AM
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I slept on a futon from college until I was nearly 40. Then a few years ago, my daughter wouldn't stop jump jump jumping on the spring mattress of her queen sized bed, so we ended up switching beds with her. (Not quite as exciting jumping on a futon!) She has been using a futon for several years now. My son also used a futon for several years, but when it needed to be replaced, he requested a spring mattress. Futons have been in use for centuries, and in this country for about 40 years. Don't know if there are any risks with them or not, but they do have a long history, so it may not be that hard to find out.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 11:10PM
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There are futons and there are futons. Some are thin and give little support, and some are very good.

As each of my three of my sons reached their mid-teens on we redecorated their rooms with double futons with good-quality mattresses which they used for years and which they then took with them when they moved out. (And which came back with the younger ones when they moved back, but that's another story.)

My oldest switched to a regular bed around ten years ago (still using his futon as a couch and guest bed after that). He has since been through at least two new -- and presumably top quality -- mattresses that didn't long meet his standards. And when we redid our small guest room/den and asked him what kind of bed to get since he'd be the one to use it most often, his recommendation was a futon.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 4:25PM
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I actually think Lucy's advice was solid. All she said was that she she doesn't think its a good idea and to check with a doctor. She did state that she didn't know for sure but I thought she gave good advice.

I have no idea if a futon is good or bad for your back. I find them personally uncomfortable but I would ask my Dr just to be on the safe side.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 10:32PM
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Oh thank you so much jyyanks! I too was uncomfortable on on the 2-3 I've ever tried, and while good ones might be just fine for most people, kids included, it just seemed like a good idea to check out what the 'experts' thought. After all, kids bones etc. don't finish 'forming' until they're close to 20 (and some not til 25), and while they might not be aware of discomfort (most can sleep anywhere, anytime) now, it possibly could have long term consequences... not necessarily, but possibly. Then again maybe futons will turn out to be better than 'western' mattresses in the future, who knows?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 5:45AM
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No, I didn't offer an opinion. I just know that in the 20 years of patient notes I have typed for several large orthopedic practices and hospitals, that I have never come across a physician who advised against use of a futon.

I may just "process someone else's work" and yes, there's TONS I don't know. Got the message. I don't know Jack. Sheese.

See ya.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 6:12AM
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My daughter (18) sleeps on one nightly. She has for several years now. We bought a (higher quality) inner spring mattress for hers. I have slept on other mattresses without the innersprings and they have been uncomfortable. I have slept on hers and loved it. She loves it too and will not trade it in.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 7:18PM
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We have a futon with a matress that has small springs in it. Really nice sleeping. Many a guest has commented on this. Feels better than our bed, which is not a cheap matress set.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 7:42PM
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For the last 4 years or so, our 17 yr old dd has been sleeping on a $100 futon in the basement. It is always in the 'bed' position and is covered by a comforter and then a bottom sheet. It is a freezing but finished 11 x 20 room. She emphatically refuses to sleep elsewhere.
Her beautiful upstairs bedroom with gorgeous trundle bed and a fine mattress is covered with her clothes. Her bedroom is what I call her "dressing room". I gave up this battle a while ago. She does use the desk in her bedroom for homework, computer, guests, stuff, stuff, stuff. Not a huge room, perhaps 11x14, and once upon a time it was such a nice space. The good thing is that nothing is growing or molding there. Teens!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 1:51AM
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Holy Cow,
I am soon to be 62 and I SLEEP IN A CHAIR! I sleep better in it than a bed AND I have both back and neck problems. Granted I use a special pillow, but the chair is an Italian leather covered one that reclines with a separate foot stool. Oh, Did I mention that I have major foot trouble as well. I have never tried a futon, but as long is I can keep my back supported and my neck raised I am as happy as a pig in slop.

1eyedJack and the Dawg

After thought, The Dawg sleeps with me, on my right thigh and she likes it as well. It gives her a launching pad to chase the mice that get in during cold, rainy weather.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 6:26PM
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My youngest - 15 - sleeps on a futon.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:29AM
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A bigger issue for me would be my son having a door in his room that leads directly outside. That actually sounds scary to me.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 1:56AM
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I am trying to imagine a doctor being asked about what the kids should sleep on. Nope, can't imagine a doc having an opinion on that at all. I am not sure that futons vs. springed beds is covered in medical school.

As a teen, I had a nice little trundle bed. I could stretch out my legs on either side and my toes could touch the ground. I learned how to roll over without moving to the left or the right. It was a handy skill for when I was at college and sleeping 8 ft up in the air in a loft.

A popular trundle-type bed that I see advertised these days has an upper bunk that is a twin bed, then a futon-style full size bed that can be a couch or a bed. It sounds like you have just dispensed with the upper bunk. ;-) If the son likes it and it does not cause problems now, I do not see how it can cause problems in the long run. If a medical transcriptionist hasn't seen it in 20 years of typing notes, it is not a common problem.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 1:31AM
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Who has the time or money to ask a Dr. about a kid's bed?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 5:21PM
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My stepson slept on one for years during high school. He loved it and I don't believe that he suffered any long term ill effects.

We have a futon in our guest room and my mother-in-law swears it is the best bed she has ever slept on.

My husband and I bought a high-end (expensive) futon mattress to use in our camper. We love it.

There are some excellent futon mattresses on the market that rival conventional mattresses in quality and comfort.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 8:25AM
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The ORIGINAL point I was trying to make (way back up there) was that children's bones are still relatively soft, and permanent damage MAY be done in various ways, one of which COULD be a poorly constructed futon (or anything else that affected his anatømy consistently over time, whether or not the kids like them. You may not want to ask the MD directly about futons, but it's always possible to sneak in a little question about their general growth pattern and how it could be affected in different ways until their bones harden off at or even above 20 yrs old. THAT is all I was saying!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 5:51PM
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I am the original poster of this thread. Didn't realize it was still a topic of conversation :)
Someone commented about being nervous about my son's room having a door to the outside. Its a slider that has a lock way high up in the frame of the slider. This has been his room since he was born and it was never an issue since the door was always locked. In fact (he'll be 11 this month) There has been a swimming pool outside that slider for the past 2 years. Sounds scary, but its not, especially now at his age even with the pool out there.
As for the futon issue. My daughter is 16 and we are probably getting a futon for her room as well. Its a great space saver, gives the room some flexibility, given our limited space.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:05PM
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I WAS the kid/adult who slept on a futon - and I much preferred it over the old, saggy mattress (which probably WAS bad for my back) I had before that. I've had a futon for the last 30-35 years. Although now I sleep on a mattress/boxspring combo (DH would not agree to the futon), I find I sleep more soundly on a futon.

BUT the key is a good quality futon mattress. Go to a futon shop and get a nice 8" all cotton (or cotton with foam core) futon. While Lucy's advice may have been a bit alarmist in tone (JMHO), she's also correct in that you don't want to just settle for "okay for now". We tend to replace our futons every 5-8 years.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:33PM
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My kids rooms are upstairs, and they get reaply hot in the summer. My daughter has been sleeping on tthe futon in our family room. She liles its sleeps fairly well. Its a bit more "springy", you can feel the springs

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 10:24AM
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Westsider:My daughters love to sleep in our finished basement. But they do sleep upstairs as well. In our case it is because t gets completely dark, no windows in the room. They can sleep as late as they want without natural light waking them up. Just wondering if this is the case with your basement?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Oooh, I'd reconsider having someone sleep in a basement without direct access to the outside. In case of a fire, it could be deadly. That's why building codes were changed to require large windows/doors in basements with living areas.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 1:01PM
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