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.
Today, I tested out the proprietary foam in the company’s flagship Nolah mattress to see how comfortable it is and decide if it is in fact the material of the future.
Continue reading below for my full review of the Nolah mattress. Don’t have time to read it all? Click here to skip to the bottom and check out my review summary.
The Nolah is constructed with three distinct layers of foam, stacking up to 10” of comfort. The bed was specifically designed to appeal to side sleepers, who benefit from the pressure relief of soft, contouring foam. The layers, then, work in tandem to alleviate the discomfort of increased tension at the shoulders and hips.
Now let’s dive into each of these different layers to see just how this is done.
Cover – The cover is made with a mixture of polyester and viscose, a semi-synthetic cotton substitute. It’s soft and cool to the touch.
Comfort Layer – The top layer of the bed is built with 2” of the Nolah AirFoam™ I mentioned in the introduction. This pliant section provides the contouring of memory foam, but doesn’t trap as much body heat as the material is sometimes known to do. There’s a lot of give here, which should provide some excellent pressure relief for side sleepers.
Transition Layer – Below the Nolah AirFoam™ we find the transition layer, which is made up of 1” of latex-like foam. It has a quick response to pressure and helps connect the comfort of the top layer with the sturdiness of the mattress’ base.
Foundation Layer – The foundation of the Nolah is constructed with 7” of high-density polyfoam, a firm layer that responds well to pressure and gives the foam mattress its structure.
After taking a look at the construction of the Nolah, let’s chat about the firmness and feel. I started off by applying some light pressure to the mattress and felt my hand sinking into the top layer of AirFoam. The material is soft to the touch and gives you the cozy contouring sensation of memory foam.
Pressing further into the bed, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of bounce, which means you’re likely to feel like you’re sleeping “in” the Nolah as opposed to “on” it. While this isn’t always ideal for stomach sleepers, it’ll do wonders for those of you who sleep primarily on your sides.
At this point I’d like to note that people of different body types and shapes will feel firmness differently. Rather than giving just my opinion on the overall firmness level of the Nolah, I enlisted three other people to give their opinion as well. This will give you a better sense of the firmness range you can expect from the mattress.
As you can see in the graph above, my testers were pretty much in agreement about the firmness of the Nolah, giving it an average rating of 5.6. When compared to the industry standard of 6.5 for medium firmness, it’s clear that this mattress is pretty soft.
I personally scored the Nolah a 5 for firmness, which I’d say makes it one of the softer foam mattresses on the market. I’ll reiterate that the company set out to create a bed for side sleepers, so it’s no surprise that it’d have so much give. As we’ve explored in other reviews, side sleepers benefit greatly from contouring foam, which alleviates pressure and discomfort.
Now that we’ve gone over the feel of the Nolah, I wanted to give a visual representation of where someone may feel pressure points form while lying on it. To do this, I placed a pressure map on top of the mattress and lied on my back, side, and stomach. You can see the results on the image below where pressure is represented from blue (low pressure) to red (high pressure).
- Back – With my weight evenly distributed in this position, I felt like I was sinking into the Nolah mattress. Not all back sleepers enjoy feeling like they are sinking into a mattress, but if you like the sensation of falling into bed, then you will like the Nolah.
- Side – That being said, I was able to roll around the mattress without feeling too stuck. Once I landed on my side, I noticed some fantastic pressure relief at my shoulders and hips, which you can see in the graphic above. The AirFoam gave these sensitive areas a warm hug and helped to dissipate pain.
- Stomach – I didn’t necessarily experience any uncomfortable pressure while lying on my stomach, but my hips did sink into the bed because of the soft foam. This isn’t great for stomach sleepers who need to keep their hips level with the rest of their body.
If you plan on sharing your bed with a partner, you’ll want to know what it’ll feel like when the other person crawls out of bed in the morning or tosses around at night. This next test is intended to demonstrate the intensity of motion that is detectable from one side of the mattress to the other.
To illustrate this motion transfer, I dropped a 10 lb. steel ball from heights of 4 inches, 8 inches and 12 inches and measured the disturbance it caused: the bigger the lines, the bigger the disturbance.
The Nolah shows a medium amount of disturbance for the 4 inch drop, which simulates someone rolling around and adjusting their position on the other side of the bed. The 8 and 12 inch drops show slightly larger spikes in disruption, but aren’t too dramatic. Memory foam-like materials are usually pretty good at containing motion and the AirFoam is no exception. This makes the Nolah a great option for couples who need to be able to snooze even if their partners are moving about.
When buying a new bed, most people want to know whether they’ll feel like they’re sinking “into” the mattress or laying “on top” of it. To visualize this sinkage, I placed four balls of varying sizes and densities (a 6 lb medicine ball, a 10 lb steel ball, a 50 lb medicine ball, and a 100 lb medicine ball) on the mattress and measured how much they compressed the surface.
The variations in size, weight and density are meant to simulate different body parts and different sized sleepers.
- 6 lb medicine ball: 1 inch of sinkage.
- 10 lb steel ball: 2 inches of sinkage.
- 50 lb medicine ball: 4 inches of sinkage.
- 100 lb medicine ball: 6 inches of sinkage.
Regardless of the position, you’ll definitely feel like you’re sinking into the Nolah mattress, though I never felt stuck or trapped in the bed. While this may not be the feel most back or stomach sleepers are after, it could be a perfect fit for side sleepers who’ll benefit from the pressure relief of the comfy AirFoam.
If you’re going to share your bed with a partner and need to use the entire surface area of the mattress, it’s going to be crucial for you to consider the amount of edge support it’ll provide.
Lying on my back near the side of the mattress, I felt as secure as I did stretched out in the center. However, as I got closer to the edge, I noticed some compression, which is to be expected from an all-foam structure.
Rolling to my side, I felt the same compression that I did while lying on my back. While this did make me feel a little unstable at the edge, I never felt like I was going to fall out of the bed.
In this position, I wanted to simulate what it would feel like to be sitting on the bed in the morning when you’re lacing up your shoes and getting ready for the day. A lot of foam mattresses experience severe compression in this position, but the Nolah actually held up fairly well.
- Sleep Trial: 120 nights.
- Warranty: 15 years.
- Shipping: Free, delivered compressed in a box.
Just getting started? Begin your mattress search with my mattress reviews breakdown.
SIZE AND PRICING INFORMATION
If you’re convinced the Nolah is the right mattress for you, the size and pricing information for the mattress are below. Be sure to click this link to save $135 on a new Nolah mattress!
|Twin||39” x 75" x 10"||49 lbs||$549|
|Twin XL||39” x 80” x 10"||52 lbs||$649|
|Full||54” x 75" x 10"||63 lbs||$799|
|Queen||60” x 80” x 10"||73 lbs||$949|
|King||76” x 80” x 10"||90 lbs||$1,069|
|California King||72” x 84” X 10"||89 lbs||$1,069|
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the Nolah mattress, it’s time to discuss who it’d be a good fit for.
- Side sleepers – As I’ve mentioned throughout this review, the Nolah was designed with side sleepers in mind. While the AirFoam top layer is going to provide excellent pressure relief for all sleepers, its body contouring properties are especially well-suited for those who doze on their side.
- Memory foam feel without overheating – Nolah claims that its AirFoam technology bests memory foam because it doesn’t suffer from the overheating problem that sometimes plagues the material. I’m not sure if all that’s true, but the Nolah mattress does indeed sleep cool and would be great for someone in search of that feel.
- Couples – This bed did pretty well at containing motion, so I’d recommend it for couples, especially for those comprised of sleepers with differing habits and position preferences.