What is a murphy bed and do you need one?

Murphy bed folded down in a bright living room to save on space
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're looking for a space-saving sleep solution that won't compromise on comfort, a murphy bed may be right for you. Known for their practical design, these pull-down beds are perfect for guest rooms or small spaces where you want to create as much space as you can. But what are murphy beds, and how can you tell if you need one?

The good news is that some of this year's best mattresses are compatible with murphy beds, so you can still enjoy the comfort and support of a high-quality mattress. However, there are a lot of things to consider before buying a murphy bed, including budget, room, and purpose. 

Here, we'll take a look at what murphy beds are, who needs them, and where you can find the best mattresses for these fold-down beds. Plus, we've rounded up three of this month's best mattress sales for anyone who needs a mattress to fit their new murphy bed. 

What is a Murphy bed?

Before and after shot of a stylish vertical murphy bed.

A vertical murphy bed when stored away (L) and pulled down (R) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Murphy beds are beds that, when not in use, can be folded up against the wall or inside a cabinet by adding hinges to one side of the bed. Most murphy beds are vertical (meaning they're hinged at the foot or head of the bed) to save room in  spaces with higher ceilings, but horizontal murphy beds (hinged at the length of the bed) are great for those with narrower spaces and lower ceilings. 

Murphy beds are often called fold-down beds, pull-down beds, or wall beds after the way they are folded up against the wall when not in use and pulled down when they are in use. 

Are Murphy beds comfortable to sleep on?

If you're wondering whether murphy beds are just as comfortable as traditional beds, it all depends on what mattress you use. If you're using a cheap, low-quality mattress on a murphy beds, then you're in for a low-quality sleep. However, if you're using a high-quality mattress that's compatible with your murphy bed, you should shave enough comfort and support throughout the night.

A white murphy bed in a minimalist white bedroom

(Image credit: Getty Images)

They're also much comfier than other temporary sleep solutions, such as trifold mattresses, Japanese floor mattresses, and other types of floor mattress as they're less firm and suitable for everyday use. They're also more hygienic and fit for those with allergies as they're elevated off the floor. However, murphy beds may not be suitable for some with injuries, mobility issues, or physical disabilities as they need to be pull down every night and folded up every morning. 

Can you use a regular mattress on a murphy bed?

Short answer? Yes. Murphy beds don't require a specialist mattress, but they do need to meets certain specifications. For example, the best memory foam mattresses work well with murphy beds as they retain their shape when stored away. On the other hands, the best hybrid mattresses or innerspring mattresses can be used, but they're not recommended as their coils can become distorted when in storage. 

Siena Mattress

(Image credit: Siena Sleep)

Also, while the best organic mattresses may seem like a perfect match due to their latex foam constructions, murphy beds aren't compatible with heavy mattresses. Latex foam is know for being quite dense and heavy, so using a latex mattress will cause some problems when lifting up or pulling down a murphy bed.

Aside from weight and material, the most important thing to consider when buying a murphy bed is height. You need something that is no more than 12" thick (but also no less than 10"). Anything taller than 12" will be too thick for a murphy bed, and it likely won't be able to be folded up against the wall properly.

Murphy beds vs wall beds: What's the difference?

A man folds away his murphy bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

All wall beds are murphy beds, but not all murphy beds are wall beds. In short, wall beds (also known as panel beds) are a subtype of vertical murphy beds. Under the bed, there is a panel with handles, so when the bed is folded up, all you can see is the panel. When it's time for bed, you simply pull at the handles, and the bed folds down in one piece. 

A murphy bed that isn't a wall bed is a bi-fold murphy bed. These beds don't have a panel under the bed. Instead, when folded up against the wall, the bed is hidden behind two doors which resemble a closet, a cupboard, or even a bookcase.

How to tell if you need a murphy bed

1. You have limited space

Murphy beds were designed to be a space-saving solution, so you can have plenty of room outside of bedtime. They're perfect for small apartments or narrow rooms, as these beds can be stored away when not in use. 

A before and after shot of a grey vertical murphy bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are plenty of murphy bed designs, so you can choose the one that's right for your space. For example, if there isn't a lot of wall space thanks to a lot of windows, shelves, and doors, then a vertical murphy bed will be best.

Meanwhile, if the ceilings are quite low or your room is narrow, then a horizontal bed will be best. (However, couples should be aware that, on a horizontal murphy bed, the person nearest the wall may need to climb over the other if they need to get up in the middle of the night.)

2. You have the budget

Word of warning: murphy beds aren't cheap. While prices vary depending on quality, design, and size, murphy beds are still generally expensive. You also have to consider the cost of installation and the price of the mattress, too. Murphy beds can be a great investment when installed correctly and safely, but consider if the addition of a murphy bed is within your budget. 

3. You want to make the most out of your spare room 

If you have a spare room that's used as a guest room, the room can sometime seem a bit of a waste when not being used to accommodate visitors. With the help of a murphy bed design, you can fold up the guest bed and use the space for whatever you like until the guests arrive. 

Where to buy the best mattresses for murphy beds

1. Bear Original Mattress:  $786$511 at Bear

1. Bear Original Mattress: from $786 $511 at Bear
Our Bear Original mattress review loved this mattress's sturdy edge support and great value for money. Plus, with its memory foam construction and 10" height, this mattress is ideal for a murphy bed. While there was a flash Memorial Day sale that knocked 40% off, Bear is back to its evergreen 35% off Bear mattress sales that discounts a queen size to $649. 

2. Siena Memory Foam mattress:$499 $199 at Siena Sleep 

2. Siena Memory Foam mattress: from $499 $199 at Siena Sleep  
Our Siena Memory Foam mattress review loved how cool this memory foam bed slept, and it's perfect for murphy beds at 10" high. It's also one of the best mattress for stomach sleepers thanks to its firm support. The regular Siena mattress sale knocks up to 60% off this memory foam mattress and prices a queen at just $399, making it one of the best cheap mattresses on the market. 

Nectar Memory Foam Mattress:  $699$349 at Nectar
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress stands at 12" tall, and our

Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: from $699 $349 at Nectar
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress stands at 12" tall, and our Nectar mattress review says its comfort and support is ideal for all sleep positions. Nectar's evergreen offer knocks up to 40% off, with a queen Nectar Original discounted to $649, so there's always a Nectar mattress sale on one of the best mattress for side sleepers.

Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.