The futon first became popular in the west in the 1950s and 1960s, majorly among college students. These beds were perfect for dorm rooms because they easily convert from a sofa to a bed –with minimal work on the part of the sleeper–and in the morning, they can be folded and stored just as easily.
The development of the futon started in Japan several hundred years ago. The Japanese like to make each room in the home multi-functional. Futons were originally rolled up mattresses and floor mats that could be stored in a closet when not in use, and the room could be used for other purposes.
The frame of these beds is very simple and easy to use. Simply release the catch and drop the backrest down, and you have a bed. A very simple process that even a child can do with no problem.
The futon mattress can either be a 100% cotton mattress or a foam mattress. The cotton mattresses are much less expensive, but they can be quite heavy and hard to move around.
Some models layer both foam and cotton together to lighten the mattress and make it more comfortable at the same time. These mixed material mattresses are a bit more expensive than foam mattresses and a lot more expensive than cotton mattresses.
Other mixtures of materials include cotton and wool, cotton and polyester, and more.
There are also innerspring futon mattresses that work quite well for people who need extra support.
When you buy a futon mattress, the price will usually be an issue. A top-of-the-line futon with an innerspring mattress can cost well over $1000, but a cotton mattress with a pine frame can be found new for about $300. Of course, you can always choose to buy a used futon frame and a new mattress. Used frames can be found at yard sales, estate sales, and classified ads.