The Nolah and Purple mattresses have a lot to offer, so many consumers may have a difficult time deciding which is most appropriate for them. Luckily after doing some research, people will see that the differences between the two mattresses are pretty clear. This comparison will go through the construction of both mattresses in detail and highlight the main takeaways consumers should know about before making a purchasing decision.
- They both have proprietary comfort layers that relieve pressure especially well.
- They are both good options for hot sleepers who want a breathable mattress.
- They have similar base and transition layers that are pretty standard for all-foam mattresses available online.
- They incorporate very different materials in their top layers and as a result have different feels.
- The Purple will be firmer than the Nolah for the majority of sleepers.
- The Nolah has a balanced foam feel, and the Purple has a unique responsive, squishy gel feel.
- The Nolah is cheaper than the Purple, but both are especially good values.
- The Nolah is 10” tall and features three unique foam layers.
- The cover is thin and fairly soft and doesn’t affect the overall feel of the mattress very much.
- First, there are 2” of a soft and responsive AirFoam, which is said to relieve pressure better than memory foam while also not trapping heat.
- Next, there is 1” of a latex-like Avena foam, which prevents sleepers from sinking too far into the mattress.
- Finally, there is a 7”high-density base foam support layer, which is pretty standard for all-foam mattresses available online.
- It is 9.5” tall and features three gel and foam layers.
- The cover is soft and thin and also doesn’t affect the feel of the mattress significantly.
- The first layer is 2” of a Purple Smart Comfort Grid, which is a hyper-elastic polymer with a squishy feeling.
- Next, there are 3.5” of a Plush Comfort Foam that acts as a buffer between the gel comfort layer and the base layer.
- The base layer is 4” of polyfoam, which is also pretty standard for a base layer in an all-foam mattress.
- They have similar covers that are soft and thin and don’t affect the feel of the mattress too much.
- The main difference between their construction is going to be found in their comfort layers. The Nolah’s soft AirFoam is great for pressure relief and has a balanced foam feel, while the Purple has a unique hyper-elastic polymer that is firm but pressure relieving at the same time.
- Their comfort layers react differently to pressure because of the difference in their chemical nature. The more pressure people put on Nolah, the more they will sink in. With the Purple, the mattress stays firm until someone reaches a certain amount of pressure and then it collapses.
Because of these differences, the Nolah may be a better choice for side sleepers, and the Purple may work better for back, stomach, or combination sleepers.
- They should both work well at keeping people from overheating while they sleep, and they should be very breathable overall.
- The hyper-elastic polymer in the Purple should make it a more durable mattress that is simply a great long-term investment.
Firmness and Feel
The Nolah felt like a 5.5/10 for firmness and the Purple felt like a 7/10. While I thought the Nolah was the softer of these two mattresses, some might have a different experience because of the way that the Purple gel material works.
The hyper-elastic polymer in the Purple only collapses under a certain threshold, so it may feel firmer to lighter people, but softer to heavier people.
The Nolah, on the other hand, felt soft to me, but it may feel firmer to a heavier person. They may press through the soft upper layers and engage the foundation layers beneath.
From personal experience, I felt good support on the back with both mattresses, but I felt a bit better back sleeping on the Purple. The gel grid collapsed under the hips and butt but held the rest of the body up and felt very supportive overall.
On the side, I felt good pressure relief on both mattresses. However, I don’t think I am heavy enough to really activate the gel grid on the Purple. Because of this, I felt better on the side with the Nolah, where I sunk in a bit and felt little to no pressure on the shoulders and hips.
On the stomach, the Nolah was definitely too soft for me, but on the Purple, I felt well supported in this position.
In terms of feel, the Nolah has a balanced foam feel with no real bounce. The Purple has a squishy yet firm gel feel where it is firm but pressure relieving at the same time.
See what I thought of Nolah’s firmness and feel in the video below.
And see how the bouncy responsive Purple worked for me with the video below.
Between these two mattresses, I thought the Nolah performed better at isolating motion, and during the tests, I saw less motion transfer on this mattress.
I believe this is because of the AirFoam in Nolah’s top layer. It is similar to memory foam, which usually does a fine job of dealing with motion transfer.
See how the Nolah should be the better mattress for couples who don’t want to be disturbed by their partner’s movements with the video below.
Watch how the Purple handles motion transfer, where it performs decently but not as well as the Nolah.
Looking at the Nolah and Purple, I feel that the Purple has better edge support. Sitting near the edge, I feel more secure and able to lean over and tie some shoes.
Lying near the edge, I feel less like I am going to roll off the bed, so from personal experience Purple has the slight advantage.
See the edge support differences in the photos below.
Marten is a staff writer for us and has a much different body type than me: He is 6’7″ and weighs about 230 lb; I am 5’9″ and 160 lb. Here is what he thought about these two mattresses and how appropriate they are for heavier sleepers:
I had a very unique experience with these two mattresses because of the added weight. With the Nolah, I pressed through the comfort layers fairly quickly and felt the foundation layers beneath. So, it felt a little firmer for me than it did for Joe.
On the Purple, I activated the gel more than Joe did because of the additional weight and pressure. So, it actually felt softer for me as a result. Unlike Joe, I thought the Purple was the softer of the two mattresses because of this difference in how the Purple felt. I said it was a 6.5/10 and the Nolah was a 7/10.
On the Nolah, I feel well supported on my back, and the hips sink in just a bit, but not too much. Moving to my side, I do press in and feel some firmness on the shoulders and hips. On my stomach, it is too soft and I’d like something more supportive overall. I feel my hips bow in, and I get out of alignment.
On the Purple, I feel very well supported on my back. Moving to my side, I feel great pressure relief and feel barely any pressure on the shoulders and hips. On my stomach, I feel supported overall and feel it is an excellent match.
If someone is a heavier back sleeper, either could work for them. If someone is a heavier side sleeper, they should lean toward the Purple. If someone is a heavier stomach sleeper, they should lean toward the Purple as well.
Nolah also has a 12” model which could also be good if someone is a side sleeper who needs a little thicker comfort layer.
While Marten and I had different experiences, I was not surprised. He is a heavier person, so he did press through the Nolah and feel it is firmer as a result. Also, on the Purple, he activated the gel grid more than I did, so he found it to be softer. It makes sense he thought that Nolah was the firmer of the two mattresses.
Who Should Pick Nolah:
- People who want a softer mattress- I felt this was the softer of the two mattresses, so if someone has had success with softer mattresses or needs more pressure relief, the Nolah is a good bet.
- Side sleepers- If someone sleeps primarily on their side, the Nolah should give better pressure relief. People will sink into the mattress a bit and feel that pressure melt away.
- Those who are lighter or average weight- The Nolah will be best if someone is not too heavy. Heavier people may press through the soft layers and feel the firmer layers beneath. If someone is lighter, however, they should get a nice balanced foam feel as well as good pressure relief.
Who Should Pick Purple:
- Those who prefer a firmer mattress- For me, the Purple was the firmer of the two mattresses. If someone likes a firmer mattress or needs a bit more support, the Purple is the way to go.
- Combination sleepers- Because of its proprietary gel grid, Purple is a good match for multiple sleeping positions. If someone moves around and changes positions at night, the Purple is a good choice.
- Heavier sleepers-The gel grid is a great match for larger people because it collapses without people bottoming out. If someone is on the heavier side, they may find this mattress to be more comfortable as they activate this gel grid more than lighter people may.
These mattresses are both popular for a reason, and I think they could be a good fit for different types of sleepers. If someone is a lighter person and sleeps on their side, they should lean toward the Nolah. If someone is heavier and sleep in numerous positions, they should choose the Purple. Please leave any specific comments or questions about the Nolah or the Purple in the comment section below.
Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.
He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.
Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.
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