Why Are Sofa Beds So Uncomfortable? – Do These Suggestions Really Work?

You may experience that every time you sleep on the sofa bed for a night or two, you’ll feel every bone on your back separate from each other as if being punched during the night. And the pain gets even worse as time goes by.

If you google, “how to make my sofa bed comfortable?” Many results give you ideas on arranging your sleeper sofa, like adding a soft pillow, getting a mattress top, etc.

So why are sofa beds so uncomfortable, and honestly, are these suggestions you find online truly helpful?

Let’s figure them out.

Why Are Sofa Beds So Uncomfortable?

You may wonder, there are so many sofa brands and manufacturers on the market, why can’t one even produce a comfortable sofa bed?

Well, I’d say it is a sofa bed, not a bed. I mean, it carries on the responsibility of both sofa and bed, that determines the comfort of sofa bed will suffer a crushing defeat compared with its functionality.

Then what are the roots of such uncomfortable?

  • Improper Sofa Bed Frame.
  • Mattress Thickness.
  • Its Compromise in Space.

The sofa bed frame is not like a standard bed frame.

Typically, there are three frequently seen sofa frames: solid wood frame, plank frame, and wood-panel combinations frame.

However, concerning flexibility, the sofa bed must discard these sturdy frames and replace them with metal frames.

That’s why some low-quality sofa beds will always make a noisy creaky sound when lying on.

And even worse, the metal frame on the edge of the sofa bed can irritate and make you feel uncomfortable during your sleep.

The mattress thickness also matters.

To sleep on the sofa bed, you need to unfold it, so to serve this function, the sofa bed mattress is designed much thinner than a bed.

The thickness of the bed mattress is 6-8 inches, while the sofa bed mattress thickness is only 3-4 inches.

Besides, you can hardly feel the spring working on a sofa, yet when you convert it into a bed, the spring pops up and makes the lying surface bumpy.

No wonder lying on it will cause constant backache.

The sofa bed usually compromises in space.

The invention of the sofa bed solved the problem for those lacking enough space to place a temporary bed; thus, nowadays, more and more sofa beds take the guard in guest rooms or office rooms.

It means that the sofa bed will never know who would lie on it for hours, might be a short kid or a tall man. However, the length of the sofa bed won’t change, leaving any chance for a tall man to stretch his leg when using it.

These are the problems commonly found on sofa beds, but let’s not overgeneralize. We cannot deny that there indeed are some brands that combat the issues, like Luonto, only that the price can be higher than normal ones.

Then facing the sofa bed that makes you feel so uncomfortable lying for long hours, how to deal with it? We found that there are several suggestions given by so-called experts claiming that those are helpful,

So, Do These Suggestions Really Work?

Let’s analyze them one by one.

Suggestion 1. Add sturdy plywood boards.

The mattress of sofa bed is quite thin, and less supportive. So in order to support your back and your head during your sleep, you can add sturdy plywood boards under your mattress.

Our Test Result:

Is it work? Kind of. Indeed, plywood boards will effectively support your whole body in replace of a thin mattress. It makes each core power point, like head, shoulder, back, and hip, get supported instead of falling off the soft pit.

But the problem is, how can you fold it up? We know that the sofa bed only changes into a bed for temporary sleeping use. When the clock turns twelve, the adorable sofa bed discards its luxurious suit and transforms into a Cinderella sofa.

Hiding the bed sheets in the cabinet or the basket is easy, but dealing with a large plywood board is not that simple. It undoubtedly, makes things even worse for a tiny house.

But if you plan to use the sofa bed for a permanent bed, then it is a good idea!

To sum up,

The Advantage: Able to support your back and head, making sleeping more comfortable.

The Disadvantage: Impossible to fold up the sofa bed with the board.

Recommended For: People wanting a permanent bed.

Suggestion 2: Get a memory foam mattress topper.

“The main issue with sofa bed is that they are bit rough on the back and you can feel the bar all the time. Adding a mattress topper will add a couple inches in cushiony comfort to your sofa bed.”

Our Test Result:

It is useless if you want to use a mattress topper to avoid feeling the bar. As long as you can feel the bar through the mattress, you can feel it through the topper. Putting more blankets on a sharp rock won’t change the fact that there is a rock under the blanket.

But if you are using it to relieve the pain that is hard to tolerate brought by the bar, it works a bit.

The storage problem also happens on the topper. Since the topper isn’t portable, you’ll still need some place to accommodate it when it is not in use.

To sum up,

The Advantage: To some extent, it relieves the uncomfortableness of the sofa bed bar.

The Disadvantage: You can still feel the bar, and it requires extra ample storage space.

Recommended For: People with large storage space.

Suggestion 3: Use more cushions / Use a sofa bed mattress pad.

“In terms of a sofa bed mattress pad, we are not talking about mattress cover, but the pad you can use under the mattress, just like a camping pad, to protect your back from metal bar. Place extra cushions or the sheets will also make the hardness go away.”

Our Test Result:

This suggestion is the same as the second suggestion. You can use them as temporary solutions, but they do not get to the root problem.

And even worse, when you put too many thick cushions or sheets under your mattress, you’ll feel sink. This goes against our spine and only worsens the uncomfortable.

The good thing is, they are pretty easy to pack. If your sheets are thin enough, you can even close the sofa bed directly without removing them.

To sum up,

The Advantage: Easy to store

The Disadvantage: Cannot resist the metal bar from the sofa bed; Too much cushion will worsen the backache.

Recommended For: Those finding mattresses too thin to sleep on.

Suggestion 4: Get a new mattress.

“The mattress used in sofa beds are notorious for being cheaply made and uncomfortable, and they will commonly be much thinner than standard mattress, that is the major reason for uncomfortableness. A new mattress will solve the problem.”

Our Test Result:

The mattress on a sofa bed indeed has a significant impact on user experience; the thickness and material determine how you will feel when lying on it for a long time. If you ask, will it work when I replace a thicker one? Yes, it works.

However, there are also some drawbacks you should know about this suggestion. The first and the most important is budget; buying a thick mattress means going deeper into your pocket, and the price of some high-quality mattresses even goes the same as that of a sofa bed.

Besides, it would be best if you made sure the size of your new mattress fits your sofa bed when stretching it out.

Though it works in getting your sofa bed area comfortable to sleep, you will still face the same problem – the sofa bed cannot close with the unfoldable mattress.

The Advantage: Work well in making sofa bed comfortable to sleep on.

The Disadvantage: Have extra spending. It cannot fold into the sofa bed.

Recommended For: Those with enough budget and ample space for mattress storage.

Suggestion 5: Get an air mattress.

“The air mattress get rid of the uncomfortableness for long hours of sleeping, and meantime saves you much space in storage.”

Our Test Result:

Among all the suggestions, this is the most effective and practical one. Compared with a standard mattress, it deflates and becomes as thin as a sheet, suitable for folding along with the sofa bed. And when you want to sleep on it, just inflate it with a button; the soft and thick cushion will give solid support to your back.

We have experimented with several air mattresses sold on the market; they all work well in automatic inflating and deflating; some even come with a storage bag, where you can place the deflated thin sheet in.

To name a drawback, I think the inflating time can be a matter. No matter how convenient in inflating by itself, it will always take some time, not too long though.

The Advantage: Work well in comfortable sleeping and storage.

The Disadvantage: It needs inflating every time you use it.

Recommended For: Nearly any conditions if you have enough budget.

Suggestion 6: Replace it with a murphy bed or a wall bed.

“If you really find your sofa bed so uncomfortably to sleep on, do not waste any money on it. Just replace with a murphy bed or a wall bed. They are a real bed, so the comfort issue will end forever. Besides, it allows you to place your sofa anywhere you want instead of worrying where it fit with the bed open.”

Our Test Result:

It is helpful to replace the murphy bed with your sofa bed, for it is truly a bed, and it functions only as a bed, so the comfort issues end. Sleeping on the murphy bed is the same as sleeping on a standard bed, only it can hide when you do not use it.

The problem is that a murphy bed is really not an affordable choice. The average cost of a murphy bed is $2500; some even go higher than $3000.

And unlike a sofa bed, the prominent feature of a murphy bed is it can fold or hang on the wall, it sounds like you saved much space, but when you use it, you still need a large space to put it down and work as a standard bed. So why not buy a tiny bed instead?

The other concern is the bed stuff, like pillows, sheets, or heavy quilt; where do you intend to put them when hanging the bed on the wall?

The Advantage: As comfortable as a standard bed for daily sleeping.

The Disadvantage: Quite expensive; need to concern bed stuff storage.

Recommended For: People having enough budget and space.

After analyzing all the possible solutions, here are the results:

SolutionsRecommended Rate
Air Mattress★★★★★
New Mattress★★★★☆
Mattress Topper★★★☆☆
Plywood Board★★★☆☆
Murphy Bed★★☆☆☆
Mattress Pad★☆☆☆☆
Extra Cushions & Sheets☆☆☆☆☆


To truly make your sofa bed comfortably, check these solutions we have analyzed:

  • Get an air mattress on your sofa bed for those with enough budget and requiring easy storing.
  • For those having enough budget and requiring only comfort, getting a new mattress, a mattress topper, or placing a plywood board will work excellently.

Well, if you do not want to spend an extra penny on your sofa bed, there is a more straightforward solution, take your sofa bed mattress off and place it on your floor; after all, comfort is the primary matter.

Photo of author
Cora is a furniture designer based in London. Since 2007 she has released over 75 pieces of furniture, which she designs and manufactures under her own label, and has created more than 20 products for other brands. She has also designed over 40 commercial retail, restaurant, bar and residential interiors.