Sleep apps have become a dime a dozen for those having trouble falling asleep. But Restflix is the peacock among pigeons. Unlike the flock of available sleep apps — which, for the most part, are audio-only apps akin to white noise machines — Restflix is more unique in its approach that packages audio and video to create a serine, brain-calming experience to lull you to sleep.
The content, available on-demand from a mobile app (Android or iOS), the web, and three major streamers (Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV), will run you $49.99 (down from $99) for a two-year subscription.
While that might seem stark for a sleep app, after adding Resflix to our nightly ritual for more than a week, we have to say that the sounds and visuals (at a lower brightness) helped us ease into sleep after long days. And with so many options of videos, we always found something that was better than the night before. It’s by no means perfect, but we found ourselves excited to tune into it as we made our way into bed.
A pretty standard interface
The design feels like your standard streaming service. There’s a search bar in the top right corner, and as you scroll down you find a choice of categories, like a less filled version of Netflix. There’s even a side scroller in each category to find other content.
Our biggest complaint is that the categories on the mobile app are not laid out strategically. The title for each category is the same size as all the other titles (for example, “Music” is the same size as a subcategory called “Oceans”). Simply put, it’s tricky to navigate and find videos. It doesn’t ruin the whole experience, but it’s a hindrance. In the end, you can still find the content you want — the path for finding it is just different, depending on the platform you’re using.
If you work your way to the right corner and click, you’ll find access to Restflix TV, and it’s an awesome option if you’re not into sifting through categories for certain videos. It’s super easy to tune to one of its 21 channels and let it run while you lie down and relax. Plus, we found content on these channels that we couldn’t find while navigating through the categories. It’s a really great alternative and cuts down on search time if you’re not picky about what you’re playing.
A quick note on mobile listening
Chances are you might fire up the Restflix right before bed with lights dimmed to get ready for a nice slumber. Unfortunately, the app on iOS and Android makes this a bit more complicated. If your phone locks or if you navigate to another app, the audio stops playing, as it believes the video is no longer in use.
As such, you’re left with some sort of light illuminating from your phone (which we didn’t love), as you can’t close out of the app and leave the audio playing. But those looking to use Restflix before bed without getting hit in the face with a blue light will have a better experience with a TV on a timer, or opting to use Restflix on a computer. With the latter, you can adjust the brightness without causing playback to stop.
Restflix doesn’t promise any real sleep benefits from the video, the way it does with the audio, so you’re not losing much if you utilize a brightness dimmer. In our testing, we didn’t miss the videos, and when using our phone, we found the audio to be the best feature. Listening to the binaural sounds in the audio is what helped us the most with falling asleep, and we absolutely felt them working as we became more relaxed while listening and were able to easily drift off. When we tested using a computer with a video on a low brightness setting, our experience wasn’t vastly better or worse. Another solution: Some of the content (meditation, dark screen music and stories) has no graphic component, leaving you with a dark screen and the soothing audio.
Plenty of content to soothe you to sleep
Restflix has something for everyone, and the videos are all of equal audio and video quality — and all of them are relaxing. We were able to find what we personally preferred (we liked the electronic instrumentals over the nature sounds) and put it to use every night. Falling asleep was a quicker process using the app than it was without. If we woke up in the middle of the night, it was easy enough to put another video on to fall back to sleep, and there’s even an option to queue up videos to let them play all night.
Content is split into several categories: music, bedtime stories, kids, dark screen music and sleep meditations. Many of these feature a graphic element that aims to help send you to dreamland — like the moon over the ocean, stars shining dimly over clouds, and nighttime nature settings. We liked that most of the videos were dark colors, because they aren’t disruptive or distracting coming from your screen as you’re trying to fall asleep. Some of them contained pops of color in the visuals, but they mostly stuck to blue hues and were never overwhelming.
The bedtime stories’ content varies a bit but features titles like “The Small Butterfly” and “Give To Others.” You can pick from a range of topics, but they all basically fit the classic mold of adventures in far-off lands and stories with beginnings, middles and ends.
Under the sleep meditation category, the content feels a bit more helpful, as the videos are themed around reducing anxiety and blocking out negative thoughts. The spoken word style is calming. Both the stories and the meditation content use the same female voice. We felt at times that it was a bit robotic, as if the recording was being autotuned. This was only for a few stories or meditations, though, and wasn’t a deal breaker. Overall, listening to the stories and meditations helped us wind down and let go of the stressful events of the day. They did their job of helping us ease off into sleep, sometimes before we even got to the end of the narration.
In most cases, it felt like our bedroom was a spa, which often sent us quickly to sleep. If days were particularly stressful, the meditations helped us release tension in muscles and focus on listening, to eventually fall asleep.
Nature sounds like running water, rain and waves all sound realistic but not abrasive. We’ve been falling asleep to white noise sounds, and Restflix offers sounds that definitely set the tone for a good night’s rest. While they weren’t as traditional, the calming instrumentals varied in volume throughout (though not distractingly so) to create almost a bath-like experience. Most importantly, there was never a repeating melody or song per se, but the sound flowed in a way that eliminated distractions and created a relaxing environment.
As noted above, all of this content lives in two distinct areas within Restflix. You can search for specific content or scroll through the interface. Or opt for Restflix TV, the channel guide-like experience that is constantly playing content. It’s not really live with an anchor, but instead different channels play through the on-demand content that fits the bill.
Ready to Restflix and chill?
Restflix covers all the bases when it comes to getting you ready for a good night’s sleep. A two-year subscription is now just $49.99, down from $99, and we think it’s a pretty good deal. It’s the kind of app you’ll use every night and definitely get your money’s worth. Whether you’re looking for nature sounds as white noise, relaxing music paired with dimly lit videos, or a soothing voice that reads you stories and meditations, Restflix has you covered.
There’s also a one-year subscription for $29.99 (originally $49) or a three-year subscription for $59.99 (originally $149).