On a mission to create “tomorrow’s mattress,” the founders of Nolah decided to ditch the standbys of yore (namely memory foam & latex) and develop a new substance that would best them both. Their solution? The Nolah AirFoam™, a material that mimics the body contouring principles of memory foam, but promises to do so without overheating.
In this review, we’ll explore how this proprietary foam feels to see if it makes for a comfortable mattress. We’ll also test the bed for firmness, pressure relief, bounce, and motion transfer, so you’ll know 100% without a doubt if it’s the mattress for you!
Nolah considers itself a “sleep technology” company that is looking to improve upon the more common materials used in bed-in-a-box mattresses. They use Nolah AirFoam™ in place of memory foam and a high-resilience foam as a substitute for latex. In addition to the Original Nolah we’re looking at here, the brand also sells the Nolah Signature (a luxury mattress we’ll discuss later on) as well as adjustable bases, pillows, and mattress protectors.
Now that we see what the company behind the mattress is made of, let’s dig right into the Nolah mattress to see what makes it tick.
What is the Nolah Mattress Made of?
The Nolah is an all-foam mattress built with three distinct layers. Every layer plays an important part in creating the soft overall feel of the Nolah. I will go through each layer individually, explaining the materials I find there and their use in the mattress.
Cover – Before I get to the Nolah’s layers, I first lay hands on an all-natural polyester and viscose (wood pulp) cover. The mix of the materials creates a soft, breathable feel that keeps moisture and heat away from the sleeper.
Comfort – Under the cover, 2.5” of Nolah’s memory foam alternative AirFoam™ provides body-contouring and pressure relief, especially in sensitive areas like the shoulders (which could be a great thing for strict side sleepers). AirFoam™ has a slow response to pressure, but it is thicker than classic memory foam. It also sleeps cooler than memory foam because it is a bit more breathable. Combo sleepers should enjoy the relative ease of motion when compared to memory foam.
Transition – Below the proprietary AirFoam™ layer, a 1.5” layer of slightly firmer poly foam transitions the sleeper from the soft feel of the comfort layer above and the firm support layer below. It does this with a quick response to pressure that also lends a bit of bounce to the mattress.
Support – After the thin support layer of poly foam, an even firmer layer of high-density poly foam gives the Nolah its base level of support and stability.
Thoughts: The Nolah uses a proprietary mix to provide deep levels of body-contouring and pressure relief that should bode well for strict side sleepers. The AirFoam™ and viscose cover help the Nolah avoid the common problems of many memory foam mattresses-sleeping hot and feeling stuck in one position. The result is a mattress that may work well for combo sleepers, because it is bouncy enough to keep sleepers from feeling stuck in the mattress when changing positions.
Now that we know what AirFoam™ and the other foams in the Nolah really are, here is a look at how the mattress actually feels.
How Does the Nolah Feel?
I test for firmness first when going through the feel of a mattress. Firmness is one of the most important metrics in a mattress, but it is also quite subjective! To accurately test for this, I average the firmness scores of my colleagues with different body types, shapes, and sizes. The scale I use ranges between 1 (the softest) and 10 (the firmest) and 6.5 as the industry standard for medium firmness.
I gave the Nolah a 5/10 for firmness. This is significantly softer than the industry standard, which has certain advantages depending on your sleeping type. For instance, strict side sleepers who may have issues with pressure relief in the shoulders and hips should find great pressure relief in those areas with the Nolah.
I feel that the mattress does retain enough support for strict back sleepers, however. I will talk more about pressure later in the review, but on initial feel, I had good spinal alignment with the Nolah on my back. Combo sleepers can also work with this level of support. Switching positions is not as difficult as I thought it would be on a mattress of this firmness level, because the response to pressure was fast enough to keep me from having to do push ups when I wanted to move. It is not a bouncy mattress by traditional standards, however.
Testing the Nolah
After my Firmness test, I test for three other essential metrics: Pressure Relief, Bounce, and Motion Transfer. Why? They tell me how sleepers in different situations will react to the Nolah. First, I will go into Pressure Relief, explain what this test means for your sleeping experience, and then move into the other two.
My Pressure Relief test includes a color-coded pressure map that I spread right on top of the Nolah’s cover. This map uses blue, green, yellow, and red to showcase the pressure that different areas of my body feel when lying down on the mattress in whatever position I choose. Blue is low pressure, green and yellow are in the middle, and red is high pressure.
Ideally, I would love to see blue across my entire body in all positions. Green and yellow deserve some explanation when they come up, which I will give at the appropriate time. Red means that we have a problem — areas that show red are the most likely to cause sleepers aches and pains in the morning.
Back – When lying on my back, I got all blue with the Nolah! My body weight has an even distribution across the body on my back, so I expect to feel no outstanding pressure. I also felt that my spine stayed nicely aligned in this position. Based on these findings, I can recommend the Nolah for back sleepers.
Side – Moving into my side sleeping position, I was very happy with the pressure relief of the Nolah in the hips and shoulders. I only saw a bit of dark green (closer to blue than yellow) in the hips with a little lighter green in the shoulders. I feel this is nothing to worry about, and the Nolah should work well for strict side sleepers.
Stomach – On my stomach, the Nolah pressure map test was all blue again! There is something else to test for with strict stomach sleepers, however — spinal alignment. An all-blue map could mean there is not enough support in the hips, which need a bit more in this position. Uncomfortable back bowing occurs otherwise, which can lead to serious aches and pains in the morning. Unfortunately, I did feel this lack of pressure in the hips, which means that the Nolah is probably too soft for strict stomach sleepers.
I test for Bounce after Pressure Relief. Bounciness in a mattress improves its mobility, which keeps sleepers from feeling stuck in the layers of a mattress. Changing positions is also easier with the right amount of bounce. For the test, I bounce a 10 pound steel ball straight down into the Nolah. Will the ball stick or bounce?
What I found is that the Nolah is definitely not a bouncy mattress, which is what I expected from its softer overall feel and firmness rating. There is more mobility than traditional memory foam mattresses, but if you want to feel on top of the mattress, perhaps a latex, hybrid, or innerspring mattress would be better for you.
Motion Transfer helps me understand how a bed will feel to a sleeper with a restless partner. I am looking for motion isolation which means that someone sleeping restlessly on one side of the bed won’t bother the other partner. For this test, I make use of the same steel ball that was in my Bounce test. I place a seismometer on one side of the Nolah and drop the ball from heights of 4”, 8”, and 12”. Let’s see what kind of motion the seismometer picked up.
I was actually very happy with the isolation of motion that the Nolah showcased here. Even at the highest height (12”), I did not get uncomfortable levels of disturbance. We can probably thank the AirFoam™ comfort layer that absorbs motion like memory foam, dissipating it evenly throughout the structure of the mattress. Couples, especially those with a restless sleeper in tow, should find the Nolah to be a great night’s sleep in this regard.
The Nolah vs.
Its direct competitor (the Nectar) and its sibling (the Nolah Signature!) These are also all-foam mattresses that use softer foams for pressure relief and deep contouring. There are some important differences as well, so let’s get right into it.
- The Nectar uses thick layers of traditional memory foam to achieve pressure relief and comfortable sinkage.
- Traditional memory foam sleeps a bit hotter than the Nolah’s AirFoam™ alternative, but it does give a classic feeling of body-contouring.
- Couples should find the Nectar enticing because of its excellent motion isolation.
- The Nectar’s price range ($499-$999) is similar to the Nolah ($489-$994).
- The Nectar Signature has a slightly taller profile (12”) to the Nolah’s 10”, which allows the sleeper to sink a bit further into the mattress for a plusher feel.
- The Signature is a flippable mattress with a softer and firmer side. I believe more people will prefer the softer side — this is what the bed is built for!
- I felt the Signature relieved pressure in sensitive areas and isolated motion quite well, so it is a good choice for couples as well.
- The Signature’s price range ($749-$1,469 if you use the purchase code SLEEPOPOLIS) is higher than the Nolah ($489-$994).
Should You Buy the Nolah Mattress?
We’re almost at the end of the Nolah review! Before we put this bed to bed, here are the major takeaways I have from this mattress. I can’t tell you if the Nolah is your next mattress, but I hope to help you make a more informed decision with these pros and cons.
Nolah Mattress Recommendations
- Strict side sleepers should love the Nolah’s pressure relief and comfortable sink. Joints don’t feel jammed, but the spine stays aligned in this position.
- The Nolah isolates motion quite well, so couples (especially those with a lively sleeper) won’t disturb each other.
- If you tend to overheat at night, the Nolah sleeps quite cool for a memory foam-type bed. I found the Nolah’s AirFoam™ alternative much better in this regard than traditional memory foam.
Nolah Mattress Complaints
- Strict stomach sleepers may find that they need a bit more support in the hips than the soft profile of the Nolah can give.
- If you are looking for a bouncy mattress, the Nolah should probably not be your pick. It doesn’t necessarily leave you feeling stuck in the mattress, but it is definitely not as bouncy as a latex or innerspring mattress.
- Trial – 120 Nights
- Warranty – 15 Years
- Shipping – Free + Compressed
- Pricing – $489-$994
- Use SLEEPOPOLIS discount code or link to save $135
Nolah has set out to improve on the foam used in most foam mattresses. Their claim is that their patented AirFoam™ is cooler than memory foam, has 4x pressure relief and is 300% more durable than traditional foam.
What is the Nolah mattress made of?
Under the cover on the Nolah mattress is 2.5″ of Nolah’s memory foam alternative AirFoam™. The next layer is called a transition layer of 1.5″ slightly firmer poly foam and the last layer is a high-density poly foam.