A folding bed is one that is folded up and stored within a piece of furniture or a wall. These beds are notoriously uncomfortable, since their mattresses are by necessity thin and thus uncomfortable to sleep on for an extended period. However, with new technology and different folding bed styles, these beds aren't nearly as uncomfortable as they may have been in the past.
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Murphy beds are a unique style of folding bed, because they involve not actually folding the mattress but rather folding the entire bed as one flat unit into the wall. When they are closed up, the wall will be covered by a piece of art, a large mirror or something else disguising the fact that a bed is in the wall behind it. When it's time to use the Murphy bed, a handle allows it to be pulled out of the wall, revealing a queen-size mattress that can be as comfortable as any you may ever sleep on.
Futons are a popular bed throughout Asia, as they are firm but able to be folded and supposedly very good for aligning people's backs. A good new futon mattress can double as a couch, as there are a number of different futon mattress/couch bed combinations sold as furniture at a relatively low cost. These futon mattresses will wear down more quickly than standard mattresses with box springs, especially if they are regularly folded as a couch, but they will still offer most people a good night's sleep at least for a few evenings in a row. Futon mattresses can also be flipped over to get more use out of them.
Many folding beds are being made out of memory foam now, since this material can be folded and regain its original shape without hurting the comfort level or structural integrity of the mattress. The memory foam wraps around the shape of the body when a person lies down on it, supporting all the pressure points of the body's various curves and bulges; this can help people get a fuller, less-restless night's sleep. As the mattress is made entirely from memory foam, the springs and structure of the mattress aren't damaged when it is folded up. One problem is that the foam is relatively easy to tear, which can lead to the mattress falling apart more quickly than others if not treated properly.
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