Easily Set a Sleep Timer for Netflix on iPhone/iPad

Yes! You Can Set a Sleep Timer for Netflix/YouTube and other apps in iOS

Sometimes getting to sleep is hard! There are countless meditation apps out there – sometimes you just want to fall asleep to the mindless audience laughter from a sitcom. But Netflix doesn’t have a sleep timer function in its iOS app. It’s weird right? Well, maybe that’s because the folks at Netflix know that you can easily use the iOS’s built in sleep timer as a sleep timer for Netflix.

Yes! The iPhone and iPad have a built in sleep timer that you can use for Netflix or YouTube or any other video playing service. You may not have noticed it because it’s not very well labeled, which makes it almost feel like a hidden feature. Let’s talk about how to set this up, so that Netflix will turn off automatically when you want it to.

Set Your Sleep Timer Using the Standard Clock App

Follow these steps and you’ll be done in less than 2 minutes. The screenshots below are for an iPhone running iOS 14. Your screen may be slightly different if you’re on an iPad, or using a different version of iOS. But this app has stayed fairly standard through the years, so I’m hoping you can follow these steps easily, no matter what you have in front of you. :)

Step 1 – Open the basic standard Clock App that comes with your iOS device. Depending on how you used the app last, you will see your alarm settings, or world clocks, stopwatch or timer.

iOS Clock App Alarm screen screenshot
iOS Clock App

Step 2 – Switch to the ‘Timer’ section of the app. In the current version of iOS (2021), you will find the ‘Timer’ icon at the bottom of the screen. Tap once on the ‘Timer’ icon.

iOS Clock App with Timer circled

This will bring you to the Timer section of the Clock App on your iPhone or iPad.

iOS Clock App Timer screen screenshot on load
iOS Clock App – the Timer

Step 3 – By default, when the timer is done it will play the sound ‘Radar’. This next step is surprising, so brace yourself: We are going to change the sound that the timer plays in order to set a sleep timer. Tap once on the box that says ‘When Timer Ends’.

iOS Timer - Changing the Notification Sound
iOS Timer – Change Notification Sound

Now you’ll be presented with a bunch of different (mostly annoying) timer sounds. Your list might be different from mine. It should look something like this:

Choosing your Timer Sound on iPhone
Choosing your Timer Sound on iPhone

Step 4 – Regardless of what exactly is in your list of sounds, scroll down to the very bottom of the list.

Screenshot - Scrolling down the list of Timer sounds
Scroll down the list of Timer sounds

I bet if you scroll to the very bottom of the list of Timer sounds, you’ll see that the very last option is Stop Playing.
🎊🎊🎊 This weirdly named option is in fact your sleep timer! 🎊🎊🎊

iOS Timer - choosing 'Stop Playing' option. This is your Netflix sleep timer!
iOS Timer Stop Playing

Step 5 – Tap on the option ‘Stop Playing’

iOS - Choosing 'Stop Playing' as the Timer Sound
iOS – Choosing ‘Stop Playing’ as the Timer Sound

Step 6 – Tap on ‘Set’ in the top right corner to set this as the sound for your Timer. As you’ve probably already guessed – it isn’t really a sound at all.

Tap on Set to set new sound
Tap on Set to set new sound

Now you’re back at your timer’s main screen. You should notice that the section called ‘When Timer Ends’ now has the sound set as ‘Stop Playing’.

Timer, with 'Stop Playing' set as the sound
Timer, with ‘Stop Playing’ set as the sound

Step 7 – Choose Your Sleep Timer Duration. Most sitcom episodes are about 22 minutes, so I usually set a timer for 45 minutes, in order to allow for two episodes to play. Hopefully by then, I’m asleep. :)

iOS - Setting the Timer Duration
iOS – Set Timer Duration

Step 8 – Tap on ‘Start’. The timer will begin counting down.

Screenshot of iOS Timer Counting Down
iOS Timer Counting Down

That’s it! You’re done. The Sleep Timer is working. You can safely switch to other apps now, and it will continue to countdown in the background. When the timer finishes, your iOS will stop playing whatever it’s currently playing, including music and video from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu. You don’t have to be in the Timer app for it to stop playing all audio & video. Awesome!!

Bonus Tip – Quickly Switching To Netflix After Setting the Timer

It’s annoying to have to set the timer in the Timer app and then go back to the Netflix app. One of the quickest ways to switch between apps you’ve recently used is by double-tapping on the home button (if your device has one). The screen will look like this. Just tape once on the Netflix app and you’ll be taken back there. The timer will continue to countdown, even if you’re in the Netflix app.

iOS App Switcher

If your iOS device doesn’t have a home button, then you can easily switch between apps by swiping left or right along the bottom edge of the display.

Final Thoughts

I hope this helps! Actually, I hope these directions become obsolete some day, when Netflix actually adds the functionality for sleep countdown. Until then, this should do the job for you. Sweet dreams!! 😴

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