My usual nighttime routine involves falling asleep to sports podcasts. There's something about Dan Patrick's voice I find incredibly soothing. But Dan now has a competitor in my life: Napflix, a site that's part Netflix parody, part useful tool.
Napflix describes itself as "a video platform where you can find the most silent and sleepy content selection to relax your brain and easily fall asleep." I sometimes have trouble nodding off after a busy day, and for me, natural sleep aids beat sleeping pills.
Napflix primarily culls its videos from YouTube. You won't find any heart-pounding action movies, explosives-laden thrillers or heart-tugging "Steel Magnolias" here. YouTube is rife with videos promising relaxation and sleep assistance, so it makes sense Napflix would aggregate them into one convenient location.
Could Napflix become my personal Sandman? I snuggle into bed and start with a one-hour video of an animated pig walking along in a green Minecraft world. It never really goes anywhere. It just walks and walks. It's weirdly mesmerizing, but the music is way too jaunty to fall asleep to.
Next, I try a multi-hour broadcast of a men's championship curling match between Denmark and Canada. Unfortunately, I'm a sports fan and find it it all a little too interesting. The key to Napflix is matching the right content to your state of mind.
Onward I press. I try a lecture titled "Einstein for the Masses," but the speaker is too engaging to lure me into dreamland.
And then I find The One. It's called "Zen Garden Sleep" and features 45 minutes of a mostly unseen person rearranging a small tabletop sand garden with a tiny rake. The gentle shooshing noises from the sand whisk me away into sweet slumber.
Insomnia is a problem ripe for tech-based solutions. Many fitness bands incorporate sleep-tracking features and high-tech light bulbs try to trick you into falling asleep by mimicking the light change of a real sunset. I tested a bone-conduction pillow back in 2014 and a CNET colleague tried a sleep hat with built-in speakers.
I'm not likely to adopt Napflix as my bedtime companion every night, but it's a fun concept and something I may end up turning to on those nights I don't want to hear about the Chicago Bears losing again.