Maybe you’re living in a small studio apartment that has a tiny bedroom or no dedicated bedroom space at all. If this is the case, you may need to look into bed alternatives to help maximize your space while still having a comfortable area to sleep. The double usage of a bed and seating area is extremely important when it comes to smaller apartments where every square foot counts.
If you’re trying to turn your traditional bed into something different to help you save space, we’ve put together a list of possible bed alternatives to consider. We understand that it’s not just about finding great sleeping solutions for your smaller space, but it’s also about being able to work it seamlessly into your home decor and design. If they can help you utilize your space in a creative way, this is even better.
Below is a list of the most common bed alternatives that are everything from cost-effective to more expensive. We’ll help you make the correct choice for your budget and your home.
1. Air Mattress
An air mattress is one of the best bed alternatives out there, and it’s a great way to save floor space while still giving yourself the comfort of a nice bed. Compared to traditional beds, an air mattress is a very inexpensive purchase. You can deflate the mattress and store it away when you don’t use it, or you can deflate it halfway and shove it in a closet during the day. What’s nice about this option is that you can take it and use it as a mattress when you go camping, during the holidays, or use it as a guest bed.
However, if you’re someone who has indoor pets like cats, you might want to think twice before buying an air mattress because they can easily deflate or damage it. The best thing you can do is keep your sheets and comforter over it to give it a thin layer of protection. Also, if you’re someone who has joint pain, this bed alternative could make it works because it tends to lose air when you sleep on it.
Apart from these few things this is a nice pick if you’re on a tighter budget or if you need temporary bedding. There are some very nice air mattresses available, and they come in several different sizes that allow you to fit your standard bed sheets to it without any problems.
An air mattress is a cost-effective bed alternative that is quick and easy to set up, maintain, and adjust to your comfort levels. My luxurious air mattress bed by Robert Cudmore / CC BY-SA 2.0
2. Bed Roll
A bed roll is a very thin-layered mattress that you use as a topper for futon mats or to give your air mattress an additional layer. You typically use them when you go camping or lay out during sleepovers for several people. Since they’re so thin, this makes this bed alternative relatively easy to store. This is also one of the most inexpensive choices on the list, and it doesn’t pass as a permanent solution for your bed.
3. Bunk Bed
A bunk bed is one bed alternative that allows you to make the most out of more compact room layouts. WHether you’re trying to meet the needs of your growing family or add sleeping areas to a vacation home, bunk beds are available in several sizes and styles to suit your needs. You can dress up your bunk bed with buttoned bedding options to give it a more adult look and feel to make it a nice option for a guest room. Picking metal frames that you paint a primary color adds a colorful furniture piece to your kid’s room.
4. Day Bed
A day bed is a type of sofa that doubles as a sleeping area. If you’re not looking to add a bed that you store away each day, you could consider this bed alternative. If you’re younger and like to sit cross-legged or laying over the side of the couch, it’s a great option. Another nice thing about this option is that it brings a space-saving aspect to your room because it usually offers storage space. You’ll typically find a row of three drawers under the seating area of this bed alternative that gives you plenty of space for your clothing or items.
5. Floor Cushions
If you’re in the living room watching television or too sleepy to get up and get into your real bed, floor cushions can pass as a viable bed alternative. Using floor cushions is a great way to lounge and relax, and it’s very popular in Eastern countries like Egypt, Morocco, or Turkey. These function as extra-large sofa cushions that you lay down directly on the floor to give yourself a little padding to rest and recharge.
6. Futon Mat
Futon mats are ideal for allowing you to sleep out in a smaller space. You can quickly roll the mats up and put them away when you’re not using them. You’ll want to lay this mat out on a hard floor or a floor with very thin carpet. If you prefer a firm mattress, this could even be a more comfortable bed alternative. You should note that the ground acts like a heat sink, and this means that you won’t wake up with heat stored under the mattress if you’re someone who sleeps hot. So, this can allow you to be more comfortable, especially during the warmer spring and summer months.
If you’re an elderly person or someone who tosses and turns at night, this is a great alternative to a traditional bed because there is no danger of you rolling off the bed. However, if you have knee issues, getting up and off the floor can be tricky. Futon mats will also need a lot of maintenance, and you’ll need to air it out and wash it often or it can start to smell.
If you want to roll it up and store it during the day, it’ll air out naturally. However, you should still clean it once in a while. You can also find zipper bags that fit this bed alternative to make this process easier. All you have to do to clean it is put it in the washing machine and dryer. They work like a sleeping bag or bed roll to a degree.
A futon mat is a comfortable and popular bed alternative that you can easily roll up and store between uses to free up your floor space. Futon by Inay@ / CC BY-ND 2.0
7. Hammock Bed
When you picture a hammock, you think of something that you string between two trees outdoors to sit and relax in when the sun is out. However, you can also secure it between two studs in the wall and get the same bed alternative inside. When you wake up, you can take it down off of the hooks, roll it up, and put it in the closet.
You’ll also find hammocks that you suspend from the ceiling or they come with their own frame. The frame-type won’t help you save any space though. One thing you have to keep in mind is that you’ll get a curve when you sleep in it over a long period of time, and this can start to bother you after a while. Don’t consider this bed alternative if you’re someone who sleeps on their stomach or side because it won’t work well for you.
8. Hanging Bed
This is a nice bed alternative to the loft or bunk bed concept. It hangs completely from your ceiling and it is higher, and this means that it’s always out of the way to leave you with tons of floor space under it. It’s perfect for a small bedroom where floor space is at a premium. The only issue is that you’ll have to have space for a rope ladder or a permanent staircase.
Most people who choose this alternative will put them by a wall so the staircase can rest right against your wall. It’s a suspended bed that is 100% safe if you install it correctly, but it can fall if you’re not careful. This is why it’s a good idea to have a professional install it for you.
9. Loft Bed
If you’re someone who is familiar with bunk beds, this bed alternative has a similar concept without the bottom bunk. It’s an elevated style of bed, and it helps to free up a lot of floor space for storage or other uses. However, this isn’t the greatest choice for every home you have, so you should consider it carefully.
For a college student, this bed is very nice because it gives you a space to put a desk so you can have a dedicated study area. It’s a nice place to sit and research, play games, or study that is semi-isolated. They make the most of smaller spaces, and this makes them very efficient.
10. Murphy Bed
A wall or murphy bed is a very innovative bed alternative that you could consider. It allows you to have the comfort of a traditional bed without losing out on floor space in your room. The key feature of this bed is that it folds down from inside the wall or from inside a larger cabinet. When you’re done using it and want to store it, you can flip it back up to open up the floor. This allows you to make the most of your space, and they’re very common in studio apartments.
This is a more cost-effective alternative, and there are options for you to create one yourself where you assemble and install it without any professional help. It can be tricky if you don’t usually DIY though. It’s a nice choice for a smaller apartment or what would be a crowded room, and it’s a nice conversation piece. Also, it doesn’t restrict what type of mattress you use, so you can be comfortable.
11. Rollaway or Folding Bed
A rollaway bed is a classic example of a bed alternative that you want to consider if you don’t have a lot of additional space to use. Chances are, you’ve most likely encountered one of these beds when you went on a vacation with the family and had to use a rollaway when it came time to sleep. The good news is that if you’re someone who ends up buying one of these beds, you’ll get one that is less squeaky and much more comfortable. It’s easy to outfit with a high-quality mattress that beats the one you used when you were a kid at that motel.
However, even if you go for a high-end memory-foam mattress, you shouldn’t plan on this being a long-term solution. They’re not great enough to want to voluntarily sleep on them for months at a time. If you don’t have space for a spare bedroom to use for your temporary guests, a folding bed could be a decent decision. It’s fine to sleep on for a few nights in a row or even a few weeks with the right mattress, and you can fold it up when you’re not using it.
Rollaway beds are very popular at hotels because they’re a way to get more people in a single room, and they come in several sizes. Rollaway Bed by newformula / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
12. Sleeping Recliner
There are recliners that you can buy that tilt all of the ways back far enough to be suitable to sleep on. They won’t lay completely flat, but they act like the beds that can tilt you upwards using a remote control or elevate your legs a little. If you’re going to purchase a recliner, this would be a nice bed alternative to have on hand just in case.
If you’re someone who likes to fall asleep watching TV at night, having this recliner can help you sleep better and wake up feeling more rested. This can be a more expensive option, depending on which bells and whistles you need.
13. Sofa Cum Bed
Better known as a pullout couch, this bed alternative is one of the most popular and common ways to save space in your living room. This is a couch-bed deal where the mattress will flip or slide out of the seating area, kind of like a murphy bed does. When it’s not in use, you can lay on the couch, read a book or watch television while having floor space to move around. At night, you can pull out the bed and get a comfortable night’s sleep.
A larger bed alternative in this style can come with an L-shape, and this means that even after you pull the bed out, there is a part that you can still use for seating or making the bed bigger. This is an elegant way to spruce up your home’s look without eating up your available space. It’s something to consider if you have a smaller apartment but you like to frequently host guests.
There is also the chance that this bed can be too soft or eventually sink and sag under pressure. This is due to the fact that the materials can’t be too stiff because it would be hard to roll back into the sofa for sitting. The slide-out-style beds won’t have this issue, but the fold-in ones will. If you sleep on this bed frequently, it could have a negative impact on your back. You could feel the support bars under you if you don’t add another padded layer on top. Again, the slide-out options offer a flat surface underneath, so they don’t have this issue.
14. Tatami Mat
If you’ve ever watched Korean or Japanese films, you’ve most likely seen this bed alternative showcased. When you spread them out, they give you the illusion of space to make the room feel much wider than it actually is. They’re comfortable and lightweight enough to give you a cushion when you sleep directly on the floor. In the morning, you can easily roll them up for storage. Tatami mats are also nice to put in your living room and lay in front of the TV if you’re watching something as a group. You will need to wash them regularly, especially if you pick a cotton one.
15. Thai Massage Mat
As you may have guessed by the name, this bed alternative is meant for when you get Thai massages. However, you can use it easily as an alternative for a more traditional futon. As long as you put these mats on a harder floor or thin carpeting, they can be comfortable and they’re nice for people who have back pain. You may hear them referred to as shiatsu mats.
If you’re someone who likes a firm sleeping surface and you want to be able to roll it up to store it during the day, we encourage you to consider this pick. Thai massage mats usually don’t get much thicker than 3.5-inches at a maximum, and this makes it easy to put them away. The only problem that you’d have with this option is that it requires you to sit on the floor each time you want to use it, and it may be difficult to get back up. If you have knee or joint issues, this could be a problem.
However, you can easily pair it with a few Moroccan floor cushions too. These make excellent pillows, or you can add between-the-knee pillows if you routinely sleep on your side. This will help to keep your spine straight and in alignment while taking the pressure off of your hips from sleeping on a firm surface.
16. Trundle Bed
A drawer bed or trundle bed is a great bed alternative to install in your kid’s room, and it can help you with room organization by freeing up space. This is a bed inside of a bed. The second bed sits slightly lower than the main bed, and you can pull it out from under the bed when you’re ready to use it. You can also find ones that pull up from underneath a dresser. This is fantastic to have if you have a room with kids or you have to have a space for last-minute guests to sleep, especially smaller children who can get hurt trying to climb up into a traditional bunk bed.
Trundle beds are a nice way to get additional storage or a second bed right under your main bed. They slide in and out easily when you need them. Trundle Bed by Neal Wellons / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
17. Water Bed
The final bed alternative on the list is more expensive, but it can be very comfortable. You can find them in all sizes, including king sizes. The modern designs give you more layers of cushion to help control the wave effect that these beds are known for. As the name implies, these beds get filled with water. They are considered to be medical beds for anyone who has issues with mobility or people who have gone through an accident or illness and need to recuperate.
This bed can help to make your circulation better and release any muscle stiffness you have by helping you relax and feel like you’re floating. Some more modern options also come with temperature control to help you pick the warmth level to give you the perfect night’s sleep.
Bed Alternative Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t want a traditional bed or you don’t have space for you, you may start searching for bed alternatives. If you’ve never had to do this before, it’s very common for you to have questions or concerns. After all, you want to ensure that you get something that will last for years and be comfortable. Asking a few questions can help you when you shop.
1. Is it possible to sleep by putting a mattress on the floor?
The answer is yes. However, it won’t work well on a nightly, regular basis. By laying your mattress directly on the floor, you’re opening the door to harboring mites and bedbugs, and this is the last thing you want. If you want to sleep on the mattress on the floor more often, you will have to lean them up against the wall from time to time to allow the fabric to breathe. You can also put them outside in direct sunlight to help disinfect them.
2. Is it bad to put your bed directly on the floor?
It can be bad to put your bed right on the floor for a few reasons. For health reasons, sleeping right on the floor without a box spring can aggravate your back conditions in the long run, and this is especially true in colder climates. It could cause constricted blood flow or hypothermia in extreme cases.
If you look at it from a hygienic standpoint, beds on the floor can encourage mold growth if the floor is too moist or if you tend to sweat a lot at night. It can smell after a while, and you’re more prone to having issues with mites or bed bugs.
We’ve outlined 17 bed alternatives for you to consider if you don’t want or can’t comfortably accommodate a traditional bed in your home. You can go through the list and see which options are most viable for your wants and needs. If you get it right, you can get a bed alternative that fits seamlessly into your home’s decor style.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.