This genius hidden iPhone feature could be the secret to better sleep if you watch Netflix or listen to podcasts in bed

This easy-to-use setting is the best way to stop your phone playing all night if you use it to drift off to sleep

A nightstand next to a bed with an iPhone in a holder
(Image credit: Getty)

In our busy and demanding world, there's a large number of us always on the lookout for new ways to sleep better. Whether it's dousing your pillow in lavender oil or listening to ambient sounds to help you relax, there's a myriad of methods that claim to help us drift off. Arguably though, the best way to improve sleep is by reducing the risk of disturbing noises in your surrounding environment, including those that come from your phone.

From the moment we wake up to the second our head hits the pillow, our phones are a constant distraction. We all know the dangers of scrolling on our devices in the run-up to bedtime and the perils of that nefarious blue light emitted from their screens, but some of us actually rely on our phones to help us doze off. Whether it's white noise, whale noises, or even the whisperings of ASMR, the apps on our phones can offer the sort of sounds that do help us to get our crucial hours of shut-eye. The only trouble comes when it doesn't automatically turn off. 

Well, you're in luck, because Apple has a solution for that. You probably never knew this hidden iPhone feature exists, but it's by far the best solution for switching off your sleep-inducing playlist, podcast, streaming platform or audiobook to help you to sleep better the whole night through. Intrigued? Here's how it works. 

How to create a 'sleep timer' for your iPhone

A stylish bedside table

(Image credit: Britt Design Group)

Some of us need complete silence in order to drift off while others rely on background noise to reach the land of nod. Be it a calming audiobook or some mind-numbing static pink noise, if you're in the latter camp, then this trick is for you. 

The thing is, ambient noise is all well and good to help us drift off, but it can become a distraction later on through the night. From causing you to stir and sleep more lightly, to infiltrating your dreams or - worse still - leading to a rude awakening from loud in-app adverts, your sleep-inducing sounds can soon become the obverse.

That's where this handy iPhone feature comes in. The sleep timer will automatically turn off your sounds after a set amount of time so that you can snooze soundly through the rest of the night. To use it, simply open the Clock app and select Timer. At the bottom, tap the button where it says 'when the timer ends' and in the following menu that shows up, choose 'Stop Playing' as the action.

All that's left to do is set the timer countdown based on how long it takes you to drift off, be it 30 minutes or three hours (although we hope the latter isn't the case). Best of all, since the feature is in-built into your iPhone, it works for all your apps, from Youtube to Spotify to Apple Music. 

This easy-to-use setting is by far the best way to guarantee a sound snooze for anyone who relies on ambient sleep sounds in the bedroom. Who knew that all this time, a peaceful slumber was just a few taps away... 

Need help drifting off but don't want to use your phone? Try this instead

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.