sleep - macOS


The sleep command in macOS is a versatile tool that suspends or delays script execution for a specified duration. It provides flexibility for managing timing within scripts and controlling the flow of processes.


Basic Syntax:

sleep [duration]

Extended Syntax:

sleep [options] [duration]


  • -h, –help: Display the help message.
  • -i, –interactive: Pause execution and wait for user input before proceeding. This option is only available in interactive shells.


Simple Usage:

  • Suspend execution for 5 seconds:
    sleep 5

Complex Usage with Options:

  • Suspend execution and wait for user input:
    sleep -i

Common Issues

  • Argument Error: Ensure that the duration specified in the argument is a valid positive integer or decimal.
  • Invalid Usage in Non-Interactive Shells: -i (interactive input) option is not supported in non-interactive shells like scripts or cron jobs.


sleep can be integrated with other shell commands to create complex tasks:

  • Delayed Execution: Delay the execution of a command by a specific time:

    sleep 10; command
  • Batch File Processing: Introduce pauses between multiple loops or processes to avoid overloading the system:

    for i in file*; do
      command "$i"
      sleep 1
  • timex: Provide detailed information about the system’s sleep settings.
  • pmset: Manage power settings, including sleep and wake schedules.
  • crontab: Schedule tasks to be executed at specific times, which can be combined with sleep for precise timing.