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Sleeper Sofa vs Sofa Bed: What’s the Difference?

Sleeper Sofa vs Sofa Bed: What’s the Difference?

A woman making up a sofa bed with blankets and pillows.Similar images may come to mind when you hear “sleeper sofa” and “sofa bed.” So, you might be surprised to hear there are some pretty big differences between the two options. Whether you’re searching for a space-saving solution for a tiny apartment or an option for overnight visitors, it’s important to know how they differ before making a purchase. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a Sleeper Sofa?

A blue and yellow sleeper sofa in a bright living room.

A sleeper sofa has a bed frame and mattress hidden within the structure of the couch. When you “unroll” it for sleeping, you remove the cushions and pull out everything you need to turn your couch into a relatively large bed, with a frame and mattress used only for sleeping. In other words, there are typical couch cushions for sitting and an entirely separate mattress that is rolled out as needed. Sleeper sofas come in various styles, colors, and materials.

What is a Sofa Bed?

A stylish, beige sofa bed.

A sofa bed converts itself into a bed, and it does not have an enclosed bed frame or separate mattress. Sofa beds create a sleep surface from the standard couch cushions, often by pulling out a trundle-type extension or folding the back of the sofa flat. Similarly to sleeper sofas, sofa beds come in all sorts of styles and designs.

Sofa Bed vs. Sleeper Sofa

It’s clear that the construction and mechanisms within sleeper sofas and sofa beds vary, but how do they compare when it comes to factors like space, comfort, and cost?


While comfortability is subjective, sleeper sofas are typically considered more comfortable (particularly when used back-to-back rather than for a single night). Sleeper sofas have enclosed mattresses that generally are better for sleeping, while sofa beds utilize couch cushions to create sleep space. Additionally, smaller sleeper sofas are often designed for a single person, so the size of the couch can greatly affect comfort level.


Because the cushions in a sofa bed typically perform double-duty for both sit and sleep purposes, they may wear out more quickly than sleeper sofas with separate mattresses. The mattress in a sleeper sofa is fully protected and preserved when folded into the couch, so it is subject to less daily wear and tear.


Both sleeper sofas and sofa beds are excellent dual-purpose pieces for small living spaces, but they require enough space to fully “unfold” and set up. The sleeper sofa requires space in front of the sofa for the full mattress, but the frame and mattress are compact and space-efficient when packed away. Sofa beds are typically equally or more space-efficient, but overall sleep space depends on your sofa bed (e.g., two-seater or three-seater). There are many types of sofa beds, from futons to corner sofas to fold-outs, so it’s important to check out all your options.


In general, sleeper sofas are pricier than sofa beds because of their separate mattress and frame features. They also offer a bigger and often more comfortable sleeping solution, which means they’ll cost a bit more than the convenient but slightly less intricate sofa bed.

Rent-A-Center Has Furniture Options For You!

Whether you’re looking for a comfy sleeping solution for a small apartment or a space-saving alternative for guests, knowing the differences between a sleeper sofa and a sofa bed is essential before making a purchase. At Rent-A-Center, we offer a variety of dual-purpose options to suit your needs. Explore our selection today for the perfect combination of comfort and functionality. Browse online or visit your nearest Rent-A-Center today!

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