Rarely do I go to bed without something playing on my iPhone, usually a YouTube video. The problem is, I need to make sure the video is long enough for me to fall asleep to, but not so long it wakes up me down the line. Plus, I need to make sure autoplay is disabled, otherwise YouTube will be running through my recommended catalogue all night. At least, I had to worry about that, until I learned about my iPhone’s hidden sleep timer.
If you’re like me, this problem probably bothers you, too. Maybe you fall asleep to videos on YouTube, or maybe you need to listen to your favourite soothing songs, using an app like Apple Music. Many of these apps have no sleep timers, meaning you’re likely used to waking up after a while to turn off the tunes. Podcast fans have all the luck, since sleep timers are pretty standard on those apps. Spotify, too, is nice enough to offer a timer to shut your music down automatically. The rest, though, aren’t so nice.
While neither Apple Music nor YouTube have a built-in sleep timer on iPhone, there is such a timer built into iOS. Apple doesn’t advertise it, but it works great. Interestingly, 9to5Google spotted a sleep timer in the latest beta for Apple Music on Android. Either that’s an indication we’re going to see sleep timers with iOS 16, or Apple thinks only Android listeners need sleep timers with Apple Music.
For now, we need to live with the hidden sleep timer on iPhone, which, luckily enough, applies to any audio source on the device. Whether or not the app you’re using has a sleep timer built in, iOS’ option will shut down playback once the timer runs out.
To use the timer, go to the Clock app and choose “Timers” as you normally would. Choose “When Timer Ends,” scroll all the way to the bottom, and tap “Stop Playing.” From here, you can choose a length of time, activate the timer, and rest assured any audio playback will cut out when time runs out.
The best part of this sleep timer, in my opinion, is iOS returns to the lock screen at the same time it stops audio playback. That way, your iPhone is guaranteed to go to sleep, rather than stay active on the app you might’ve had opened. That’s not a problem for apps with background playback, like Apple Music, but since the free version of YouTube requires you to stay in the app to use it, this baked-in sleep-timer feature is very welcome to me.
Be warned, though: iOS remembers the last selected timer “sound” for future timers. If you absent-mindedly set a timer without changing “Stop Playing,” the timer won’t make a sound when it goes off. If you don’t have any audio playing on your iPhone, it’s possible you won’t notice the timer go off at all, which could ruin dinner, your nap, or whatever else you set the timer for.