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Futons were first created and used in Japan, though in a slightly different way than they are used now in the United States. Japanese futons are typically stuffed with cotton or synthetic material and made to be set on the floor for when they are used, and then put away in a closet during the day. Futons in the Western Hemisphere are different in that they are more like mattresses, and instead of being set on the floor while they are in use, they are usually put on a frame of structural similarity to a couch, but one that can fold into a flat position. Because of this type of frame, instead of the futon just being used as something to sleep on at night as it is in Japan, the futon can be used as a couch during the daytime.
Futons typically come in the standard sizes of twin, full, and queen. The most used and preferred size is full, and there are quite a few benefits to using that size. One reason is that it feels more like a normal couch when you sit on it, as opposed to the queen size which feels too tall or the twin which feels too short. Another positive that comes from using the full size is that its smaller size makes changing it from couch to bed form much easier, while still having the ability to seat and sleep the same number of people as a queen.
Once a futon is purchased, many consumers find it necessary to protect their new piece of furniture from stains and natural wear and tear to prolong the life of the mattress. Futon covers can usually be acquired for anywhere between $40 and $60, and while this may seem expensive for what appears to be little more than a standard bed sheet, futon covers are more durable than they appear, and can help to save $100 or more by saving the mattress from being destroyed.
Many people, especially those with limited budgets, wonder if a futon is an acceptable alternative to a traditional bed. For some, it can be. A futon is cheaper than a mattress, and its ability to double as a couch means that it can be an effective space saver. The need to buy a couch and a bed is eliminated with the purchase of a futon, if the consumer is willing to use it as both. A major downside to using a futon instead of a bed is that futons typically do not have the same level of support for the body as mattresses do, and they can cause soreness. If the consumer is in good physical condition, it may be worth it to go with the futon. However, if they tend to suffer from any sort of back or joint pain, a bed should be used to help support and refresh their bodies during the night instead of the more rigid structure of a futon.