In Discussions, Discussions, Life, Lifestyle, Minimalism

10 reasons why sleeping on a minimalist futon is the best bed you will ever have

I’ve always had curious people emailing me and asking me why I sleep on a Japanese futon on the floor.

You can buy an all-cotton futon made here in the U.S.! The quality is a world away from what you can find elsewhere. Don’t cheap out.

For those folks, it’s very unconventional and strange because it makes them think of those cheap student futons they had to endure during college, or it is a sign of you not being able to afford a “real” bed, and therefore you are poor.

Well I am neither poor, a college student (those years have passed!) nor cheap (as evidenced by my monthly spending), and I daresay no one can really call me “frugal” except in certain categories such as the lack of furniture I own (should I be called out for not spending in acceptable categories?).

I have been sleeping on a Japanese futon for about 6 years now (AFTER my college days, I would like to add), and I have never looked back. It was definitely different for the first week or so, but once my body got used to it, I didn’t want to go back to sleeping on a regular bed.


The one thing I want to point out before you read on is that those nasty college futons are lumpy and horrible. Yes they convert into a bed from being a sofa or whatever Transfomer-like properties it has, but it is uncomfortable.

I am talking about a well-made, true Japanese futon that adult people use. Speaking of the Japanese…




Of course, modern Japanese now have Western-style beds, but why fix it if it ain’t broke?



1. I never have to worry about anyone falling off it

I do not know if you live with the fear of falling off your bed, but I never worry about rolling off my bed.

Furthermore, we bought a Japanese futon for our baby (and will buy ones for our future babies) and as a result, I don’t even need to buy those silly chair rails that parents put on their beds to stop their children from rolling off.

P.S.You can buy an all-cotton futon made here in the U.S.! Don’t cheap out on something you will be sleeping on more than 8 hours a night.

Tell me, is this bed rail that parents buy for their children not ridiculous and a waste of money?


2. It is easy to roll up a futon and move with it

A little cotton string, some muscle power to roll it as tight as possible, wrap it in a futon carrying cover or even with 2 garbage bags, and you are good to go.

It takes up almost no space in the moving truck, and you can even throw it in the back of your car across the backseat, no worrying about breaking the bed.. it’s just essentially a super thick piece of cotton.

In contrast, a “normal” bed consists of any or all of the following:

  • A bed frame and possibly a headboard as well
  • A boxspring (with springs that poke into your back over the years as it ages)
  • A mattress cover or some sort of padding

All of this is not light. If you like sleeping on larger beds like Queen-sized or King-sized ones, this means you have to lift those heavy suckers out, get them down the stairs, out the door, onto the truck, not to mention spending time dismantling that bed frame and headboard.

I can guarantee you that it will all certainly not fit in the back of your car, and if you aren’t careful you might even chip the headboard or bed frame by dropping it because it’s so damn heavy.

3. It is easy to pull out a futon on the floor for a guest

The Japanese do this — you can convert any room with a clear space into a quick guest bedroom. You don’t need a proper bed or even a bulky sofa bed, just pull out your guest futon from the closet, unroll it, slap on some fitted sheet covers and linens and you are good to go.

All of our guests who have slept on the futon have found it quite comfortable, and even if they haven’t found it comfortable, it is all the more incentive for them to not to stay any longer than 1-2 weeks as a guest.




4. Futons let you use a room for more than one purpose

In all seriousness, the Japanese tended to have very open, empty spaces in their homes. They would use each room for different purposes based on what they required, because they did not have a lot of space to begin with unlike Westerners.

An empty room can be converted into anything you wish — a play room, study area, yoga center, and so on, and at night, you can pull out that futon you rolled up this morning, lay it out (with the sheets still on it and everything), and use that empty room as a bedroom during the night.

You don’t need to make the bed, or close the door to hide the bed from guests coming over, nor do you have to worry about dust getting on the bed (you just roll it and put it in the closet).


Multi-functional, multi-purpose, no wasted space. What could be more minimalist?

Of course, being the lazy Western folk that we are, we have a bedroom so we just leave the futon unrolled and use it as our sofa as well as our bed (we watch videos while lying down on the futon), but that is mostly because we have the extra space to do so.

If we had to live in a studio or a one-room sort of deal like the Japanese, we’d certainly be rolling up that bed each morning to make space, and unrolling it at night.

5. It’s a natural, 100% cotton bed that could be sterilized in some way

It is all natural, 100% cotton.

You can put it over a railing and beat out the dust each Spring like those industrious Japanese folk do but we are too lazy for this.

We do it once in a while.

What’s nice is that we can actually lift the futon out, put it over a railing, let the sun beat down on it to sterilize the bed and bring it back in.

You can’t do that with a conventional, heavy, bulky mattress!!!

6. It is better for our backs

Ah, no we come to the main reason why we even found a Japanse futon being comfortable to sleep on in the first place.

It is better for our backs, period.

I know people think that very soft comfortable beds are better for bad backs, but from our research over the years, it has shown that a firm (but not hard) bed is better for your back. It keeps your spine aligned, and you do not wake up with back pain on a futon.

We literally have no back pain any longer, and I used to suffer from a pinched nerve once in a while, sleeping on a mattress that would sag in the middle.

What about getting up in the morning!? What about when you were pregnant!!?

My sister in law was commenting about how nearing the end of my pregnancy I would not be able to sleep on the floor and get up easily, but I found very minimal problems in doing so.

I just rolled over on one side, used a hand to prop up my torso and bump, and then moved into a sitting position and stood up.

Then again my bump was not enormous and I did not put on more than 25 pounds in total, so that has to be taken into account as well.




7. You can layer the futons if you want something more comfortable

We do not do this but you can layer the futons on top of each other if you want something more squishy and comfortable. The Japanese do this, and I am fairly sure it turns into a Princess and the Pea kind of situation with them.

I think they layer up to 3 cotton futons on top of each other, and by all accounts it sounds very comfortable for those who are accustomed to conventional beds.

You could layer 2 of these and have a very comfortable bed, trust me.


8. It’s cheap

A single Japanese futon is about $300.

A conventional bed costs about $1200 on average, and that may or may not come with a boxspring. It kind of depends what you want to buy, to be honest.

My parents paid $1200 for their bed and it came with a cheap looking gold bed frame, a mattress and a boxspring.

9. No one can bounce on a futon and hurt themselves

“3 little monkeys jumping on a bed.. one fell off and bumped his head…”


Again back to the childcare aspect of this, but when I was a child I loved bouncing on my bed. This was very dangerous but I did not have enough developed brain cells to comprehend how dangerous it was.

I have heard of horror stories from parents about their kids jumping on the bed, actually managing to smash their head on the ceiling or just tumble off and break an arm.

It’s kind of a minor “WTF-are-you-spewing-on-about” point from me, but a valid one nonetheless.

No one can bounce on a futon and it removes that danger. Period.



10. People (especially children) love being on the floor

Not just adults.

For some reason, sitting on the floor appeals to children. I suspect it is because everyone no matter how tall is at their same height, they can see your face to interact with you instead of your unresponsive navel or legs.

Maybe it’s because they’re used to beds, and having something on the floor that is soft and comfortable to crawl on makes them excited about the novelty of being able to be ON THE FLOOR, but every kid I have come across has wanted to come and sleep or play on the floor on top of the futon with us when they have visited.

They think it’s great fun and there’s no worry about them falling off it while they’re playing either.

And that my friends is why a Japanese-style all cotton 100% well-made futon rocks.


Share Tweet Pin It +1

Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

You may also like

Paying for the privilege of not eating

Posted on April 18, 2012

Previous PostShopping again, but to upgrade or replace items this time!
Next PostWhat I read: The Spring 2019 Edition


  1. Futons for Everyday Sleeping: Good or Bad? | Expert Home Makers

    […] people have been using. They are designed to be placed flat on the floor. Though there are certain benefits of Japanese futons, we don’t think these are conclusive to judge it as a regular sleeping […]

  2. Angelina Gudeeva

    To begin with, I have long-standing back problems (hernias and protrusions), so the issue of sleep is very important to me. At the end of 2018, I decided to buy a bigger bed for myself, so the old mattress that completely suited me no longer suited me. Futon mattress conquered my heart, and immediately ordered it. The mattress itself is high, does not make a noise in it when you lie and turn over – this is a big plus, my old one was already starting to creak with springs.

  3. Carl

    I’ve found that with both the futons I’ve owned they have sagged in the middle. Due to the design, I guess this is to be expected. Even flipping it, rotating it, the bulk of the weight will always be in the midsection of the futon.

    My queen futon is like 9 layers (25kg) and is harder to move around than a traditional spring mattress. Moving it outside to get some sun would be an absolute nightmare.

    I’m not quite sold on futons to be honest. And both of mine are custom made cotton/latex/wool/coconut builds. Throwing them on the floor is a sure way to encourage issues with mild also.
    My question is, how is it that a futon WILL NOT sag in the middle? It seems inevitable by design.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      We have to regularly fluff it and rotate it. When you sleep, it sags in the middle because the cotton migrates to the edges. Normally you should fluff and roll it away nightly but we are lazy, so we just fluff and rotate it every 2 months or so.

  4. Eva

    Hello! =)

    I was thinking about buying a futon and I was wondering if a tatami was required to sleep on it ? I read something about moisture and I know that is good to put away the futon in the morning to help it evaporate but I don’t know about the wooden floor and then if a tatami is mandatory… ? For how long have you been sleeping on a futon ? Do you need take care of it in a special way ? (sorry for my weird English, it’s not my mother tongue! ^^)

    And thanks for your article! =)


    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Hi — A tatami is not required to sleep on it. I know it is good to put it away and so on, but the tatami is not mandatory.

      I have been sleeping on one for 10 years. We fluff / rotate it every 3 months or so (the fluff migrates to the corners), and my partner has been sleeping on a futon for 20+ years.

  5. Jason

    Anybody got a link to buy one a Real futon

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Real futons are sold here: J-Life

  6. AATP

    Hello, thank you so much for the wonderful information it’s much appreciated! I’ve been staying with a friend who only has an air mattress to sleep on which was killing my back! I then purchased a Japanese Tatami mat. I’ve been sleeping on it for several months but my back is still bothering me. Is there much difference between the Tatami mat and the Japanese futon you’re talking about? Mine is a full-size mat that I purchased from a vendor who sells through Walmart. It is not smooth abut has “gathered areas” like dips and pockets if that makes any sense. Thanks so much for your help! AP

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      A tatami mat is really just a base made out of woven straw for under the futon. The actual futon itself is cotton mattress.. which is what I use.

      I think what you bought is just like a Japanese futon but called a tatami mat. Semantics, really. If it feels like a cotton mattress, it’s a futon.

      1. AATP

        I did not realize that. I thought it was like a futon mattress but I guess its not as this mat is hard and uncomfortable. Thanks so much for the information I really appreciate it. 🙂

        1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

          Oh a futon is not hard and uncomfy!

          1. mark

            Sherry is correct a tatami mat ( i believe there are two types one folding and one non folding) is used for two things 1-to allow air flow under the futon 2-when it is cold it adds extra insulation on hard wood floors. there some people in japan that will cover there room with them (non folding). also on a side note there is a heat pad that can be placed between the tatami mat and futon. look online for examples it comes down to preference.

          2. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

            I cannot wait to go to Japan and try it out in person.

  7. Wendy

    So I just bought my first futon, and I love it, BUT it is a little too firm for my partner. Its on slats on a platform bed frame, and I thinking that something like a ‘firm foam’ underneath would be just the thing to give the base a little more ‘give’. Tatami mats seem like the perfect solution, but $300 for a queen size mat is just out of the question for me right now. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to soften things up a bit? Thanks a bunch.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You could try a firm foam underneath but as it is plastic, it may keep the heat and the sweat (not very breatheable) versus cotton. How long have you slept on it? It takes people about a month to get used to the firmness… I’d try a firm foam if after a month he isn’t used to it.

  8. Justice

    Hi, I am debating on getting a futon or not. My mom always told me that they are uncomfortable and springy in her experience. So my question is are they uncomfortable and are they more convenient? Thanks for your help!

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Really? Springy? Maybe you are thinking of futons on those futon slats, perhaps. I put my futon bed itself directly on the floor and it is NOT springy, but it was a bit uncomfortable the first week or so as your body acclimatizes to it. I now can sleep on soft beds, but prefer a futon on a floor instead.

  9. Moni

    I read the japanese have a thinner futon for the summer and a thicker version for the winter. Was wondering if I should get the wool+cotton version for the winter, or purely cotton version for both seasons. I’m worried cotton futon won’t be warm enough.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I only have a cotton futon and it’s perfectly fine. If you are later worried about the winter you can wrap the futon in cotton flannel set of sheets like these ones to stay warm. I did that for Baby Bun in the winter when he was younger and it worked well.

  10. Ashley

    Nice article! I spent 5 months in Japan and had a cheap, thin futon on a slat platform bed for most of my time there. It provided under-bed storage, which is where most of my clothes were. Staying with my Japanese relatives in different parts of the country, they all pulled a futon out of the closet for me.

    Back stateside, I complained about the mattresses so my parents surprised me with a futon from Japan a few months later. I don’t use it on the floor anymore, though. Both my previous and current apartment have really cold floors. Plus, I was missing my underbed storage. We ended up making a short platform bed (1 foot high) with slats.

    The slats are actually “softer” than the floor (both hardwood and cheap carpet). They have a bit of give, but the spacing can’t be too wide because the futon is so malleable. The bedframe really is a hassle to move though; I’ll probably be spending the summer without it.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      It’s why I don’t bother with the bed frames any more. I just sleep on the floor (hardwood) even though it’s harder, and we fluff it & replace it when it starts to get really lumpy.

      1. Tina

        How long does it last before getting lumpy?

        1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

          We have had our futons for about 5 years now? Still going strong. The trick is to shake them out once every quarter, and “fluff” them back out because the cotton flattens out and becomes dense.

          1. Tina

            Do you fold yours up every day? I wonder if keeping it flat all the time would prolong its lifetime? I currently have a queen-sized mattress, bed spring and frame and expect I will need to get a smaller bed and since I am moving into a smaller place with wood flooring that I want to protect against scratches etc want to get just a mattress that will go on the floor and think a futon might be good.

          2. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

            I actually suspect rolling it up daily would keep its fluffiness longer than leaving it flat on the floor to let gravity take its toll, but we don’t do that. We just leave ours on the floor, and my son uses it like a play area (he LOVES it), so there’s no point in rolling it up daily for us, as we have a dedicated room to sleeping and don’t need the space otherwise even if it doubles as a play area.

            That said, I will mention that we stack futons (2 max) once they flatten down. We had to buy a second one I think 2 years ago? And now the two flat futons are the right thickness for us (not too hard)..

      2. steve

        what about spiders?

        1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

          None. I don’t get spiders where I am.

  11. Amanda

    I have been using a futon for awhile and I really like the convenience of it and price. I didn’t splurge on a nice cotton one since I’m a college student at the moment. I just purchased a cheaper synthetic version. It’s great for me and easier to clean. That being said I know I don’t clean mine properly but it’s worked well for me. It is recommended not to use directly on the floor but I sleep on carpet and it’s good enough for me.

    Here is the link in case anyone is interested…

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I used to sleep on the carpet and liked it too because it gave a little more softness to the futon if need be 🙂

  12. Mya

    Thanks for the information! Were you fine laying on futon shortly after having baby?

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yes! But I had a C-Section so it was tough for me to get up, I would roll on my side and push myself up with my arms, and I just slept on his futon beside him (he slept on the diaper changing pad we bought, with a terry towel underneath, as it was very soft and yet sturdy)…

  13. Kitty

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone had recommendations of futon bed frames?
    Or a type of replacement for the box spring bottom you would use for a regular mattress?
    I have a futon on the floor currently and would like to get it off the floor, but I worry that the futon would sink into a lot of the regular bed frames.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You can use the J-Life FreePort Bed to raise it off the floor, or if you want something on the floor try their Tatami Mats which is what Japanese people typically use.

  14. Mg

    We just got two of these and they have been amazing so far. I couldn’t swing spending $700 on a futon from J-Life to try it out. But we have been very happy. Amazon link.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      What a great idea!

  15. Laurel

    I bought a double futon about 6 weeks ago and put in on my queen size ikea bedframe with wooden slats. I was a bit nervous about comfort but there has been no adjustment period at all. I also got a “traditional” sized buckwheat hull pillow and it is AMAZING. I still have queen sized sheets and just tuck the excess underneath. Everyone should get a futon and BwH pillow.

  16. Aa

    Is it difficult to maintain a futon and tatami mat?


      I do not own a tatami mat yet, but it is not difficult to maintain a futon at all. In what way do you mean? I usually fluff it once a month to every 3 months, and rotate it so the cotton spreads to different corners each time.

      1. Aa

        I live on the equator and it’s real humid and I heard there are issues with mold etc, so was wondering whether it’s difficult to maintain futons and tatami mats. Anyone out there with experience with tatami?

        Thank you!

        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Oh that’s a valid question. To be honest, I think you might need to elevate the futon then and put it on something that will allow air to flow around the futon to keep it try.

          I don’t have experience with this, I hope someone can help!

        2. Sazanqua

          Japan is also humid. Over there you often see futon hung over the balcony rail on a sunny day, Let your futon air out in your backyard under the mid-day sun. The sunlight kills germs and bacteria and futon gets sanitized naturally. Futon gets noticeably lighter, fluffier and smells good after this sun drying. Tatami, if it is a real one, naturally breathes and controls moisture because it is made of dried grass. That is why it is better to use futon on tatami and instead of a hardwood floor. In Japan, that is OK, though, because you put away futon bedding every morning and keep it folded in the futon closet during the day, so you don’t keep it sitting on the floor day after day. If you do, then you should worry about mold.

          1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

            Thank you so much for the extra info. I may be more convinced now to get tatami mats.

          2. Eva

            Hi! =)

            I read that futons should be folded every day to help them aerate. But perhaps it depends on the humidity… Nonetheless, if you have tatamis you must fold your futon and put it away every day (and roll it once a month to fluff it, dry it in the sunlight once a year) to help moisture evaporate from the tatamis. I read on a French site that some people had misadventures by not putting away their futons during day time (molding tatamis and even critters…). Here is the website (in French) if you want to have a look :

          3. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

            I did not have this problem at all — not up here in Canada at least, nor even in upper United States. As for more humid temperatures, perhaps. I have not had this experience.

  17. jp

    Great article. Just curious, is sleeping on a futon on top of carpet ok, or should tatami mats be used (would it be more comfortable)?


      I have never tried a tatami mat, and I’d imagine it would feel better / softer, but on top of a carpet has been my preference thus far.

      1. jp

        sorry, one follow up question: i want to try a futon, but spending $300 for something i might not stick with is a bit much. Do you think that the cheap low end ones (example link below) would be ok for trying out the experience…or is it work it just to cough up the money for a quality one?


          I am hesitant to tell you to not try it, but here’s my 2 cents of why I wouldn’t bother wasting the money (you’ll end up buying the real one later):

          This is what it is:

          Mattress filled with white cotton, comforting fiber and resilient foam.
          Cover material is made of 100% polyester.

          Those materials? You’re going to sweat like a pig. Polyester, resilient foam and fibers… as long as it isn’t 100% cotton and naturally breathable, you’ll have trouble.

          Just my 2 cents. I support you buying either one! Do let me know how it works out.

  18. david wu

    May i ask where i can buy or order and real japanese futon ??

  19. Megan

    Hi Sherry, just wondering if you use tatami mats or just put the futon on carpet or wood flooring?


      It is on wood flooring directly 🙂 We were thinking of tatami mats but it would just be for the smell of it (it smells great)

      1. Megan

        Thanks for your repy! Was just curious and wondering if wood were soft enough as that’s what we have.


          I prefer carpet but wood flooring is not as bad as concrete

  20. Trisha

    I am 52 and in my adult life I have never had a “real bed”… just futons. I have a connective tissue disorder and experience a lot of pain and difficulty moving around. I love that they are firm and not bouncy. I started stacking 2 of them after buying a replacement futon and decided to just put it on top of my flattened one. I also started using a raised ( but still low since I do like low beds) platform frame after it became too hard to get myself up from floor level. I recently added a 2 inch memory foam pad (defeating my preference for a 100% cotton bed) because of pain as well and it still is not as squishy as a conventional mattress.. I move about every 3 years and just roll them up and wrap packing tape or bungee cords around them. Even with my problems I can move a queen size futon by myself this way. One thing I do is sew 2 twin size flat sheets into a big pillowcase for each futon for cheap and easily changeable covers.. When I have had a fluid incident ie) kitty pee, I just douse the spot with enzyme cleaner, leave it uncovered for a day, and it dries easily and with no lingering smell. One thing you can try to also clean it is to just vacuum it. I was shocked the first time by the sheer amount of dust and other stuff that I got in the canister.


      OH! That is such a good idea, to just vacuum it.

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’m going to do that when we change the sheets this week.

      I sleep much better on the futon than I ever did on a bed. My toddler also sometimes pees on the bed but we have an adult incontinence cover sheet that we put where he sleeps.

  21. rusty

    Hey I suffer from lower back pain and I sleep on a very old and soft expensive bed my mother used to use! I was wondering, which japanese futon is the best one to order for the lower back pain? There were several different kinds! Thanks!


      In my link to Japanese futons, I bought the 3-life Shiki futon. You can always spend more on organic cotton if you wish but the most basic one was fine for me 🙂

      Let me know if you have other questions!

  22. Mark G

    Those are not real futons on the link you provided. That is some mockery of a futon made in the states. Just think of it this way. If you have your heart set on a Toyota Camry then why by a Geo Metro? That’s what you do when you compromise and you purchase a product that is not made by a true artisan. Want to see what a true futon looks like? Check this video out. Oh, and for the record, Japanese people no longer sleep on the floor. Their futons are on raised platforms like a short, platform bed. And this is what my futon will be on. I’m ordering one directly from Japan. And yes, you can still be a minimalist if you have a basic, platform bed. I love the ones made by haiku designs and I love their futon sheets too.


      1. No need to be rude.

      2. Sure, if you can afford one directly from Japan go for it. But why not buy one made in the U.S. from the U.S.? No import charges, and it is just as good.

      3. In bed & bath inns in the countryside, my friend has slept on futons on the floor which they bring out each time so before you start throwing around generalizations that “Japanese people no longer sleep on the floor”, please consider that anything goes in any household.

      Furthermore, most modern Japanese folk sleep in Westernized beds now. Why not say that?

    2. Jordan

      I can’t stand when people like you offer their 2-bit uniformed garbage like it’s a fact, just cause you read one article on it. I’m currently living in Japan and a great deal of the non luxury houses/apartments use tatami mat floors for the bedroom and putting anything heavy that doesn’t displace weight over the full surface area will damage the floors. So if they use anything (most people I know don’t) they use a foam cushion and maybe have a folding futon couch/bed for guests. Also that elitist crap about artisans is a load, yes there are artisans but many real Japanese people sleep on cheap futons which you can get at Nitori for as low as (approximately based in conversion)$80USD though up to $250 is reasonable.
      Sincerely~ a guy laying on a futon over tatami as he types this.


        Thank you for sharing a personal real-life experience and insight.

        (P.S. How is the tatami mat?)

1 2

Leave a Reply to AATP Cancel Reply