Bedtime automation

From time to time, I find myself very interested in Shortcuts. [1] It’s only within the past year or so that I’ve properly dived into the world of Apple Automation as well. The result is a handful of “set and forget” actions that help with night time routines.

Automations in use

These three simple shortcuts have made my bedtime routine extremely easy and I recommend them to everyone.

Wind Down

I have my sleep focus set to activate at 10PM. It customizes my home and lock screens to show just the apps I allow myself to use at night. No social media. Just routine applications like calendar, health, and weather, my home security app, and bedtime media-related things like podcasts or TV and film diaries.

I mostly work from home, so I can get by with scheduled weekday alarms. On the nights before I do have to go into the office, remembering to set different ones that go off earlier occasionally slips my mind. For this, I wrote a shortcut that fetches the next 5 calendar events for tomorrow, matches their location for my office and, if a match is found, turns off all of my regularly scheduled alarms and activates different ones labeled “Work - In Office.”

I also set the white point of my screen to 75% to reduce the light emitted from it even further than your typical brightness adjustments can.

Sleeping Headphones

After ruining a pair of AirPods Pro by sleeping in them nightly for years, I bought a very unflattering headband that has two thin speakers stitched inside. It charges by USB-C and does a great job for nighttime podcast listening.[2]

The problem with this headset is that it doesn’t have any way of knowing when I drift off. I have a simple shortcut that uses Overcast’s shortcut actions to begin playing the first episode of My Brother, My Brother, and Me, set the sleep timer for 35 minutes, and adjust the volume to a comfortable 30%. Even with playback stopped, however, the headset won’t time out and power down until it disconnects from my device’s Bluetooth connection.

The solution is an automation that runs at 2:00am that turns off my phone’s Bluetooth and another that turns it back on at 6:30am. This is a hands-free way to ensure my headset’s charge lasts longer and means I’m less likely to accidentally trigger playback when I roll over in my sleep.

Public Embarrassment Prevention

This was actually my first automation and it’s ridiculously simple: When Instagram is opened, set volume to zero.[3]

No more loud and embarrassing reels when perusing the feed in the presence of people or scrolling in bed.

An automation I’d like to try

It was a post from Bee on Mastodon that prompted me to document my automations today. They shared two that they use, similar to my bluetooth action, that turns their screen monotone in the evening to encourage entertainment elsewhere and returns it to normal first thing in the morning.

An automation I wish I could use

I inherited an old Arlo camera system with the house. It’s the first system, still branded with Netgear’s logo on the base station. We only use them outdoors and typically only when we’re away or asleep. There are decent controls for this within the Arlo app, but I’d love to hook into this with Shortcut actions. [4]

  1. I’ve written about some of my playlisting shortcuts before. ↩︎

  2. I’ve fallen asleep to the McElroy brothers’ podcasts every night for the last 6 years. ↩︎

  3. I used this on TikTok as well, but they actually made this a setting within the app. I also deleted the app from my phone to get 6 hours back in my week. ↩︎

  4. Roberto Gallea has written about sniffing out Arlo’s undocumented API that I intend to look into. ↩︎