A sofa bed turns a living space into a sleeping space. There are many variations on the sofa bed, as different sofas use numerous mechanisms to transform the couch into the bed. The type of sofa bed you select depends on the space for the sofa, your comfort and ease of transformation.

Ginger tabby cat looking at golden retriever sleeping on sofa
credit: Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images
Types of Sofa Bed Mechanisms

Pull-Out Sofa Bed

The pull-out sofa bed does exactly what it's sounds like. The top cushions are removed from the couch and placed to the side. Underneath them is a spring-loaded metal frame. The bed is pulled out from the center and flipped forward with three folding sections. The bed frame snaps into place and pairs of legs automatically come down to support the mattress. The mattress is usually about half the thickness of a standard bed mattress.

Futons

A futon is metal or wooden frame that mimics the look of a sofa and unfolds into a sleeping space. The most common futon is a bifold futon. When you open it, the seat base and back support lay flat next to each other horizontally with the full mattress on top. A hinge on the futon is released by pulling on the seat base, and the back support will gently flatten. Just remember to pull it away from the wall before unfolding. Throw pillows provide a head rest when used as a bed. Trifold futons have a hidden "deck" underneath the seat that unfolds to create a footrest. The back support lays flat, while the seat remains the same height and level.

Sleeper Sofas

The IKEA sleeper sofas are similar to the futon, but some come without the hinge. Some sleeper sofas have a removable back support and pillows, creating a flat, cozy sleeping space that is wider than a couch. Others have a hinge similar to the futon, and you unfold the backrest to lay flat. Unlike traditional futons, the mattress is built into the IKEA frame. Futons have a removable and replaceable mattress. Sleeper sectionals have a pull-out footrest or pull-out mattress to create a full, flat bed. This design can combine the popular "L" shaped sectional with the traditional pull-out sofa bed.

Drawer Sofa Bed

Instead of removing cushions every time, you can use a drawer-style sofa bed. The bed mechanism is underneath the couch. Pull out the drawer under the couch. The bed pulls up and the legs fold out and rest on the drawer. An extended side of the couch adds to the size of the bed and provides an extra seat when the bed is not in use. All of the cushions remain in place on the couch.

Electronic Sofa Bed

The electronic bed uses button controls to transform the couch into a bed. This is a good option for those who have trouble bending and lifting. The electronic sofa bed unfolds itself with you having to lift or bend. Generally, the first button slides out the front cushions of the couch several feet. The second button automatically slides up two additional cushions to create the bed. This is essentially a longer couch with the backrest and cushions still intact on the couch.