The most unique and complicated piece of furniture in the average home is the Sleeper Sofa. While most furniture has a single function, a sleeper sofa has the dual role of both sofa and bed.
This creates some serious challenges for designers and manufacturers. Sleepers must:
- Maintain the correct seat depth, back angle and seating comfort of a sofa.
- Contain a sizable and supportive mattress.
- Convert smoothly from couch to bed and back without damaging or wearing out the moving parts.
- Be able to fit upstairs and into smaller guest rooms and home offices - while weighing twice as much as an ordinary sofa.
It's always a balancing act- some sleepers are good couches and uncomfortable beds while others sit poorly but sleep very well. Some can be easily disassembled to fit anywhere while others are a misery to move and unable to navigate a staircase.
Which type is best for you depends on your situation, budget, and priorities. Here is a quick breakdown of the four different types with a handy chart at the bottom to summarize.
The Conventional Sleeper Sofa is the most common type in the USA- and in many respects the worst- ranking last in in our sleeper guide. If looking more or less like a regular sofa is your priority and guest sleeping comfort is not than this could be for you.
But please be aware of the following issues.
- The front rail is unusually deep (to contain the mattress and mechanism) which makes it look bottom-heavy.
- The seat cushions sit directly upon the sleeper decking (instead of springs) so it sits a bit rigid.
- Because the sleeping mattress has to trifold (fold into thirds) it is usually only 4"-5" thick and uncomfortable. Plus the mattress is always undersized to leave room for the mechanism.
- The seat cushions must be removed and the coffee table relocated before conversion. This can make the room crowded and untidy.
- No disassembly is possible. These things must be moved as a single unit and they weigh 200-300 pounds. It's almost impossible to get upstairs.
Comfort Sleepers are a patented brand of the American Leather Company (most of them are actually sold in fabric and microfiber, not leather)
They look great, they sit very well, convert easily and have very comfortable mattresses. They also have been engineered to improve upon many of the weaknesses of the Conventional Sleeper.
- Instead of trifolding, the Comfort Sleeper Mattress is split into three parts so it can be firmer (and more comfortable). The three parts are mounted close enough together and the splits cannot even be felt when sleeping.
- The mattresses are true-sized (a queen really is 60" X 80") and are the only sleepers offered in King size.
- The patented conversion mechanism is the easiest to operate of any sleeper.
- Even though it weighs over 300 pounds, the Comfort Sleeper is designed to be disassembled into six parts for delivery. it can fit anywhere a person can walk.
The only downside to the Comfort Sleeper is the price. When you want the best looks, engineering, and materials you must pay for them.
Euro Sleepers are a newer arrival to the US market. They look and function in a completely different way than Conventional Sleepers or Comfort Sleepers.
- A Euro Sleeper has a "tight back" over a "bench seat". There are no loose or separate cushions so it always looks mod and tidy. The tailoring is usually quite good.
- There is no hidden mattress. Instead the back of the sofa drops down so you sleep on the existing seat and back.
- You sleep parallel to the wall not perpendicular (like the other sleepers). There is less disruption because you don't move the coffee table to the other side of the room when converting to a bed.
- Expect a "European Feel" with the European Look. It's a very firm and upright sit and an austere sleep.
- Euro Sleepers ship in 2-3 parts so you can more easily fit them upstairs and around corners.
Because most people have never encountered an excellent Futon Sleeper they imagine a funky mattress on the floor or a flimsy metal frame from Walmart.
But Futon Sleepers shouldn't be prejudged by the worst examples. You wouldn't hate all sofas because you once sat on a really bad one- would you?
If the wooden arms don't deter you, Futon Sleepers offer the best sleeping experience and have many unique benefits.
- The wooden frame comes in six parts that join together with metal connectors. It fits in the back of a wagon or SUV and is easily transported through doors and stairways.
- The cushion/mattress is separate from the frame and comes in many different feels from sink-in soft to super firm.
- The cushion/mattress is much thicker (8"-10") and substantially more comfortable than any other sleeper type.
- The fabric outer cover zips on and off. You can redecorate in a snap and most are machine washable.
- Futon Sleepers convert simply and quickly from couch to bed and back without having to remove cushions or relocate the coffee table.
- Futon Sleepers are durable. You might buy a new cover every few years and a new cushion/mattress every decade, but the frame can last for decades.
Which Sleeper type is best for you depends upon your priorities. What do you value most?
- Sofa seating comfort
- Guest sleeping comfort
- Looks and style
- Ease of Coverting from couch to bed
- Ability to fit through narrow doorways and halls and traverse stairways
Check Out this Chart to Help Decide