What Is a Sleeper Sofa or Sofa Bed?

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On December 14th, 2023
What Is a Sleeper Sofa or Sofa Bed?

Key Takeaways

  • Versatile Functionality: Sleeper sofas and sofa beds offer a practical and versatile solution for homes with limited space. They serve as comfortable seating during the day and can easily transform into a cozy bed at night, making them an ideal option for accommodating guests without the need for a separate guest room.
  • Distinguishing Features: While sleeper sofas and sofa beds serve a similar purpose, they differ in their design and functionality. Sleeper sofas are equipped with hidden mattresses within the frame, providing a more convenient and comfortable sleeping surface compared to sofa beds, which rely on sofa cushions for sleeping. The distinct construction and features of each type can influence their comfort and usage.
  • Considerations and Alternatives: When selecting a sleeper sofa or sofa bed, factors such as mattress size, type, and space availability are crucial to ensure you make the right choice. Additionally, exploring alternatives such as Murphy bed cabinets, daybeds, sleeper chairs, air mattresses, bunk beds, or lofted beds can provide additional options for maximizing space and accommodating guests.

Have you ever come across sleeper sofas and sofa beds? These versatile pieces of furniture are becoming increasingly popular in many homes. They serve two purposes providing comfortable seating during the day and transforming into a cozy bed at night.

In this article, we will explore what modern sleeper sofas and hide-a-bed furniture are and how they can be a practical addition to your home.

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A modern sleeper sofa is a special type of furniture that combines the functions of a sofa and a bed. It is designed to offer a comfortable place to sit and relax during the day, while also providing a convenient sleeping option for guests or even for yourself when you have limited space. Now, let’s delve into more details about these sleeper sofas.

Best Sleeper Sofa Accessories

Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary

Best Pillow for Sofa Sleeping Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow
Best Cooling Bed Sheets for Sofa Sleeping Amerisleep Bamboo Sheets
Best Blanket for Sofa Sleeping Amerisleep Allseasons Blanket
Best Comforter for Sofa Sleeping Amerisleep Recover+ Comforter

Sleeper Sofa vs. Sofa Bed: What Is the Difference?

Contrary to popular belief, sleeper sofas and sofa beds are not the same. Although they serve a similar purpose, there are distinct differences between them. When it comes to sofa beds, they are more like futons. These pieces of furniture can be flattened out, transforming into a bed, and typically don’t come with a traditional mattress. Instead, they rely on the sofa’s seat cushions for comfort.

On the other hand, sleeper sofas are designed with hidden mattresses buried within their frame. This mattress can be easily unfolded or folded as needed, providing a convenient sleeping surface. Unlike a traditional couch, sleeper sofas offer the advantage of accommodating occasional guests without requiring a separate guest bed.

Sleeper sofas are especially beneficial in small apartments or spaces where optimizing space is crucial. Their hidden mattress allows for efficient use of space, making them a practical choice for those with limited room. In contrast, sofa beds may not provide the same level of comfort as sleeper sofas since they rely solely on sofa cushions for sleeping.

3 Benefits of Sleeper Sofas

Sleeper sofas offer several practical advantages that make them a great choice for both small apartments and large houses.


In a studio apartment bedroom or a small guest room, space is limited and valuable. That’s where sleeper sofas come in handy. They offer multipurpose furniture that serves as both seating and a fold-out bed.

With a sleeper sofa, you don’t need separate pieces of furniture that can serve as seats and mattresses for guests, which means more space for other activities in your small living area.


Sleeper sofas offer a range of frame sizes and prices, so you can easily find the right one for you. Whether you choose a two-cushion loveseat or a three-cushion sofa, these flexible pieces can turn into a full-size bed or even a queen-size sleeper.

This versatility means you can provide an extra bed and comfortable sleeping space for guests, no matter how much space you have. Say goodbye to worries about accommodating visitors with a convenient pull-out couch and folded mattress.


Sleeper sofas offer a variety of upholstery options, allowing you to easily match them with your furniture or decor. They come in different colors, patterns, and materials, giving you the freedom to create a stylish and cohesive look in your living space. Simply arrange a few throw pillows or bed shams and toss a throw blanket onto the couch to complete the look.

What’s more, some stores even offer sleeper sofas as part of living room furniture sets. This means you can find a type of sofa that serves both as a bed and a stylish seating option, all while helping you save money. It’s a great choice for those living in small apartments who want to maximize both style and functionality without breaking the bank.

Types of Sleeper Sofas

Let’s explore the different types of sleeper sofas that are available to meet your seating and sleeping needs.

Pull-out Couches

The pull-out couch is a common type of sleeper sofa that you might be familiar with. It has a real mattress that can be laid flat for sleeping by removing the cushions and pulling on a handle or bar to lift it out and fold down the bed.

Some models have a lock button to release the bed, while more expensive ones use a power mechanism to extend the mattress. Available in both small and large sizes, pull-out couches can be a good option for accommodating guests in a small space without the discomfort of standard couch sleeping, although they do take up more room when open compared to other types.

Sofa Beds

A sofa bed is a type of sleeper sofa that simply folds down into a bed. Just like a futon bed, the cushions you use for sitting and resting your back on also serve as the mattress for sleeping. Unlike the pull-out couch, most sofa beds don’t have separate cushions that need to be moved and stored elsewhere. The sofa bed mattresses are already part of the sofa itself, making it convenient to switch between seating and sleeping configurations.


When it comes to futon mattresses, they come in varying mattress thicknesses. If you plan to use the futon for sleeping frequently, it is advisable to choose a thicker mattress, preferably around 8 inches or more, to ensure optimal comfort.

A futon mattress can be folded out flat, transforming into a comfortable sleeping space. They are available in different mattress sizes, ranging from twin to queen, and can be constructed using a combination of metal and wood materials.

Sectional Sleeper Sofas

A sectional sleeper sofa is a versatile piece of furniture that works well in larger rooms, providing options for a foldout sleeper or a pull-out trundle bed style. These types of sleeper sofas often come with queen-size or even king-size mattresses. Additionally, the sleeper portion can be found in the chaise section of the sectional, creating a smaller sleeping arrangement, typically with a twin-size sleeper sofa mattress.

Buying Considerations for a Sleeper Sofa

When purchasing a sleeper sofa, there are several important factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice for your needs.

Sofa Bed Mattress Size

When you’re planning to buy a sleeper sofa, it’s crucial to take into account the room size and measure the doorways and hall passages. In a smaller bedroom, a twin-size sleeper sofa with a thin mattress may be the best choice, offering enough room for a single person to sleep comfortably.

On the other hand, if space is not a concern, a queen-size sleeper sofa provides ample room and comfort, accommodating three people for seating and offering enough space for two sleepers with dimensions of approximately 90 inches long and 84 inches wide when opened up.

Sleeper Sofa Mattress Types

When choosing a sleeper sofa, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and how you plan to use it. If you intend to use it primarily as a bed, pay attention to the type of mattress it comes with. Nowadays, sleeper sofas offer a variety of mattress options, allowing you to find your preferred type. The standard thickness of a sofa mattress is typically around 4.5 inches.

Here are some of the common types of mattresses for a sleeper sofa available:

Gel memory foam

Consider the gel memory foam mattress, which offers a comfortable yet firm sensation and provides a cooler sleeping experience compared to traditional memory foam. This type of mattress might be suitable for nightly use, offering a balance of support and comfort for a good night’s sleep.

Traditional memory foam

If you’re looking for pressure point relief, traditional memory foam mattresses are an ideal choice. They are designed to alleviate discomfort by contouring your body. However, it’s important to note that traditional memory foam mattresses may sleep warmer compared to gel-infused options.

See also memory foam vs gel memory foam.

Polyurethane foam

For multipurpose rooms, a polyurethane foam mattress can be a practical choice. This type of mattress is made of high-density foam and offers an affordable option. It excels at minimizing the feel of the sleeper sofa mechanism, ensuring a smoother transition between sitting and sleeping.

Air over coil

The air over coil mattress, also called an air mattress or hybrid mattress, combines an inflatable air bladder with coil support for a comfortable and customizable sleep experience. However, it may require additional maintenance, such as using an air pump.


If you opt for an innerspring mattress, you will get a traditional and standard coil mattress with added padding. This type of mattress is suitable for sleeper sofas that are used infrequently. It provides a reliable and comfortable sleep surface, and its interior mechanism ensures proper support and durability.


Consider a latex mattress for your pull-out sofa, which offers a firm and resilient feel. Made from eco-friendly materials, type of mattress provides both comfort and sustainability. The latex material offers durability and support, making it a great option for your pull-out sofa. However latex foam is a heavy material, and it may put strain on a less-than-supportive sleeper sofa.

Alternatives to a Sleeper Sofa

If you’re considering a sleeper sofa, you likely want a multifunctional piece of furniture that can serve as a bed at night but be tucked away during the day or the occasional place for guests to sleep. However, a sleeper sofa or sofa bed isn’t the only option that fits this description. You may also want to consider Murphy Bed cabinets, daybeds, sleeper chairs, air mattresses, bunk beds or lofted beds.

All these alternatives offer different features and benefits, catering to various needs and room configurations. When choosing the best option, consider the available space, the frequency of use, and the desired level of comfort and convenience.

Murphy Bed Cabinet

A Murphy bed, also known as a wall bed or fold-down bed, is a space-saving solution that can be stowed away when not in use. It consists of a comfortable Murphy bed mattress that folds neatly into a cabinet or wall unit, offering a seamless blend of form and function.

Murphy beds come in various sizes, from twin to queen, and can be customized with different finishes and storage options. They are perfect for studio apartments, small bedrooms, or any room where space is limited and having both a traditional bed and traditional sofa may take up too much floor space.

When guests arrive, simply fold the bed down from the cabinet, and you have a comfortable sleeping space ready to use. Once they leave, tuck the bed back into the cabinet, and the room returns to its original purpose.


A daybed is perhaps the most similar to a sleeper sofa, serving as both places to sit. Typically the frame is what gives it a couch-like feel, with a high backing and armrests, as you can use a typical mattress for a daybed.

Daybeds come in various styles, including classic, modern, and contemporary designs, making them suitable for different decor aesthetics. They are an excellent option for guest rooms or home offices, where you want a comfortable seating area that can also function as a sleeping space when needed.

To convert a daybed into a bed, you simply remove the back cushions and add bedding. Some daybeds also come with a trundle bed, providing an additional sleeping space for guests.

Sleeper Chair

If you have limited space, sleeper chairs are a great option. Sleeper chairs, also known as chair beds or convertible chairs, look like regular armchairs during the day but can be unfolded to reveal a twin-sized mattress for sleeping at night. In other words, they’re much like a more compact sleeper sofa, being both a bed and a place to sit.

These chairs are an excellent space-saving solution for small apartments, guest rooms, or any room where you might need an extra sleeping option.

Air Mattress

If your purpose in getting a sleeper sofa is to provide guests a place to sleep that can be stowed away when not needed, an air mattress may serve your purposes just as well. Unlike traditional mattresses, air mattresses are filled with air, allowing them to be easily inflated and deflated as needed.

Inflating an air mattress is a simple and quick process. Most air mattresses come with built-in pumps that can be operated electrically or manually, inflating the mattress in a matter of minutes. Some models even have automatic inflation features for added convenience.

Another one of the main advantages of an air mattress is its portability. When deflated, it can be rolled up or folded into a compact size, making it easy to store in a closet or carry in a storage bag. This makes it an excellent option for those who have limited space or frequently move or travel. It can also be set up in whatever space is free in the home, rather than kept in one spot.

Modern air mattresses are designed with comfort in mind. They often feature a flocked or velvety top surface that enhances comfort and prevents sheets from slipping off. Some higher-end models also have additional layers of padding or foam for added support. Still, many prefer the complete comfort of memory foam to air mattresses.

Bunk Bed Frame

Bunk beds are stacked beds, typically two, but sometimes more, placed vertically on top of each other. These beds are connected with a sturdy ladder, allowing easy access to the upper bunk. Bunkie boards can also be found to match for more support.

While they’re a common sight in a children’s room, bunk bed mattresses and frames are not limited to kids’ rooms. They can also be suitable for adults who need to maximize their available space, especially in studio apartments, guest bedrooms or vacation homes. They take advantage of often otherwise unused vertical space.

Bunk bed frames are available in various configurations, such as twin-over-twin, twin-over-full, twin-over-queen, or even triple bunk beds, all bunk bed sizes providing flexibility to match specific sleeping needs.

Lofted Bed Frame

If you want an out-of-the-way bed, a lofted bed frame might be the solution. Essentially, it’s a bunk bed frame without the bottom bunk, leaving you free to push other furniture such as a desk, dresser, or a bookcase and things for a cozy reading nook underneath.

This type of frame is common in college dormitories and can be upgraded with your choice of dorm room mattress. Lofted beds are particularly beneficial in small rooms or studio apartments, where every square foot counts.

Many lofted bed designs allow for customization, including adding or removing accessories like curtains, shelves, or storage units. While lofted beds are a fantastic space-saving option, safety is paramount, especially if used by children. Look for lofted beds with sturdy guardrails and a secure ladder to ensure safe access to the sleeping area.


Are sleeper sofas good for everyday use?

Sleeper sofas can be suitable for everyday use, especially if they come with a quality mattress that ensures a restful night’s sleep. It’s important to choose a sleeper sofa with a comfortable mattress that provides adequate support and durability for regular use. By investing in a sleeper sofa with a high-quality mattress, you can enjoy both comfortable seating and a good night’s sleep every day.

What to look for when buying a sleeper sofa?

​​When buying a sleeper sofa, it’s important to look for features such as a comfortable bed that offers restful sleep. Additionally, consider the sitting position and ensure it provides adequate support and comfort while seated. Opting for a fully upholstered sleeper sofa can enhance both the aesthetics and the overall comfort of the piece.

What are the disadvantages of a sleep sofa?

Sleep sofas do have some disadvantages compared to traditional sofas. One drawback is that the cushions on a sleep sofa might not be as comfortable for sitting as those on a regular sofa. Additionally, the process of transforming the sleep sofa into a bed can sometimes be more challenging and time-consuming.

Are sofa beds a good idea?

Sofa beds can be a good idea, especially if you’re looking for a versatile piece of furniture. With a sofa bed, you have the option of both a comfortable seating area and a bed when needed. Unlike a futon frame, a pullout sofa seamlessly transitions between being a sofa and a bed, making it a convenient choice for accommodating guests or maximizing space in your home.

Should I sleep on the sofa or on the floor?

It is generally recommended to sleep on a sofa rather than on the floor, especially if the sofa has a metal frame. Sleeping on a sofa can provide more support and comfort compared to the hard surface of the floor. The metal frame of the sofa adds stability and durability, making it a better choice for a restful night’s sleep.


Sleeper sofas and sofa beds are versatile pieces of furniture that offer both seating and sleeping options. They provide practical solutions for maximizing space in small apartments or rooms without a dedicated guest area. Many strive to make a small bedroom feel bigger, and a sleeper sofa can help you accomplish that.

Consider adding a sleeper sofa or sofa bed to your home or small apartment to enhance functionality and convenience.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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