How to fix your Mac not waking from sleep

EnergySaverIconXThere may be an issue that some iMac users experience where after being in sleep for a period of time, their systems will no longer respond to keypresses or other input, and even though pressing the power button should similarly wake the system, doing this similarly has no effect. With this problem, affected systems require either the power button be pressed and held for ~10 seconds, or the power cord is pulled to shut the system down and reset it.

Recently MacIssues reader Ken H. wrote in about this problem happening on a Late 2013 model iMac, running the latest versions of Yosemite and all other installed software. While the system would wake properly if immediately put into sleep and then woken, if left in sleep mode for a prolonged time, then it would simply refuse to wake up.

In general, this type of issue suggests a power management problem or other hardware-based configuration fault that can usually be tackled by the generic troubleshooting steps of resetting the Mac’s Parameter RAM (PRAM) or its system management controller (SMC).  However despite Ken resetting the these features, the problem continued, suggesting the default values for these controllers is allowing the issue to persist.

After investigating this problem further, Ken found it revolves around the handling of hibernation mode.

When your Mac sleeps, it will initially enter a standard low power sleep mode that keeps memory active so you can quickly resume your work. However, if power is lost in this mode then your system will lose its memory contents and have to start back up from scratch. To prevent this, hibernation mode (aka standby mode) will write the contents of memory to your Mac’s hard drive and then shut off, allowing you to resume work in the face of lost power. Since this mode uses no power, it is required to be on by default for some systems in some countries.

Unfortunately it appears that some systems may have troubles with hibernation mode, so if you are finding your Mac unable to wake from sleep, then are three potential fixes you can try:

Turn off system hibernation

Since hibernation mode’s only real benefit is to allow you to resume from sleep in the face of a power loss, a simple solution may be to turn hibernation mode off by running the following two commands in the OS X Terminal (enter your password when prompted–it will not show):

sudo pmset standby 0
sudo pmset autopoweroff 0

These commands will turn off the hardware settings that will put your Mac into hibernation mode. The first is Apple’s main standby mode option, and the second is an implementation required for European energy regulations. To reverse these commands, you can again either reset your Mac’s system management controller, or re-run the commands but use “1” as the value instead of “0.”

Disable and re-enable FileVault

The writing and restoring of memory contents from disk may conflict with FileVault or other full disk encryption routines. Technically when waking from hibernate mode the system should allow you to authenticate and then load the contents of the hibernation file, but if a bug prevents this from happening, then your Mac may not be able to load the hibernation file, and could hang.

To hopefully overcome this, first try disabling your full-disk encryption routines. After your disk is fully decrypted (this may take a while) test hibernate mode to see if it works properly, and then re-enable disk encryption and test again.

Remove your the system’s hibernation file

A final approach you can try is to remove the system’s hibernation file, which is the hidden file that is written to whenever your Mac goes into hibernation mode. While the system will recreate this file if it is missing, if present then it will just write to the existing file. As a result, any damage to this file may prevent the system from reading it when waking from sleep. To fix this, you can force OS X to recreate it by deleting it, which can be done by running the following command in the Terminal:

sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage

Again supply your password when prompted, and then see if hibernate mode works properly.

Special thanks to Ken for writing in about this issue.

48 thoughts on “How to fix your Mac not waking from sleep

  1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    I had problems with sleep on every Mac I owned until I got my current computer, a 2013 27″ iMac. This was often due to the use of third party PCI cards and/or having external drives connected. These issues apparently affected the power management settings, and resetting the PMU/SMC rarely had any affect on the system’s failure to sleep. For the first time, with this Mac, I am able to leave it on for days at a time instead of shutting it down when I wasn’t using it and restarting when I came back.

    Nevertheless, I went ahead and used the Terminal commands you suggested. Occasionally the system would be slow to wake if I returned to it quickly after putting it to sleep. I suspect this was because it was writing to the hibernation file. At first I panicked, thinking something was wrong, but I found that if I waited a minute or two it would finally wake up.

    I found a related problem with Yosemite on laptop computers. It will create a large sleep image file that can take up a lot of room, relatively speaking, on a small drive partition or SSD. There is no way I know of to disable the creation of these sleep images. They can be removed manually if you use a utility like Daisy Disk to locate them.

  2. Meta Neuschuler

    I’m having the exact opposite problem…no problems waking from sleep, in fact, since “upgrading” to Yosemite, now, when I put my computer (mid 2010 27″ iMac 2.98 GHz i7) to sleep, it almost immediately goes to the log in screen. I’ll cancel, put it back to sleep and within a minute or so, it’s back to the log in screen.

    I know this isn’t what this post is about, but it’s frustrating. {:(

    1. GS

      One really obscure reason for this is the print queue. Check that there is not something waiting to print. The other thing to look for is via the Console. See what is waking it up.

      1. Meta Neuschuler

        My print queue is and was empty. I did look in the Console, it was showing excessive wakeups (I’ll include what I got from the Console) but I just don’t know what to do with this info. Here’s what was in the Console:
        “5/9/15 4:29:26.000 PM kernel[0]: process plugin-container[2746] caught causing excessive wakeups. Observed wakeups rate (per sec): 278; Maximum permitted wakeups rate (per sec): 150; Observation period: 300 seconds; Task lifetime number of wakeups: 191310
        5/9/15 4:29:26.418 PM ReportCrash[2777]: Invoking spindump for pid=2746 wakeups_rate=278 duration=162 because of excessive wakeups
        5/9/15 4:29:27.880 PM spindump[826]: Saved wakeups_resource.diag report for plugin-container version ??? (1.0) to /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/plugin-container_2015-05-09-162927_Meta-Neuschulers-iMac.wakeups_resource.diag”

  3. zuzusays

    Yosemite sucks. I wish I could undo it and go back to Nirvana before Yosemite, it’s made my Mac miserable. I’m a neophyte compared to you all, but my basic laptop life has been a total mess since I decided to be a big girl and upgrade from Lion to Yos. and I hate it. I’d love to just wipe its brain and put the back up I had before upgrading, and leave it alone. I was going through different issues and read this one about the sleep mode, which annoys me, and decided to comment. Thanks for all the info.

  4. Frank

    Thanks for this tweak – I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out what in the way of hardware or mower mgmt settings were off (or possibly even a hardware issue) with my Mac Pro. These two adjustments to the power mgmt settings fixed my wake-from-sleep issues!!! No more hard reboots!! File system loves me now – worked like a champ.

    1. Jon K

      Problem recurring after upgrading to macOS Sierra. Once again, these 3 adjustments through Terminal work LIKE A CHARM! Thank you.

  5. Kim Baba

    Does anyone think this will help with a failure to ‘find’ the thunderbolt second monitor upon waking from sleep? I have the cheapo Mini (got it so we would have Yosemite in the house, everything else is 2007 vintage, running 10.6.8 and working like a champ) with one monitor on HDMI and another old monitor on VGA to Thunderbolt.

  6. Enrico

    This did not work. I’m putting things back to where they were now.
    I have an iMac 27 i7 from late 2013 and El Capitan and I have to force a hard restart after my system won’t wake up from night sleep. It will wake up, after a few minutes sleep though…

    1. Kristoff

      Having the same issue on a 27″ iMac of late 2015. Tried the hibernation hint, but it didn’t work either. Every morning I have to do a hard restart after putting it to sleep the evening before. No problems waking up from a short sleep though

      1. Enrico

        Yep, it sounds very familiar. Have you found any solution? Maybe bringing it back to Apple? I went, but they said all the hardware was fine and saw no problems. πŸ™

        1. Kristoff

          No, Enrico, not yet. I only have it for a few days. I’m so delighted by it, that I don’t feel like bringing it back at this time :-). This waking-up issue isn’t so disrupting that I consider bringing it back either. I have the fusion drive version, so it does a cold restart extremely quickly. Nevertheless, if I find a way around it, I’ll definitely post it here.

          1. enrico

            Hi Kristoff, I actually also have the fusion drive version, I wonder if that’s got something to do with it. Anyways, good luck and let’s keep any news about this posted!

        2. Kristoff

          I’m now certain that the 2nd screen attached to the iMac is related to the issue. It is a Dell U2713HM. When I disconnect the screen and put the iMac to sleep in the evening, it wakes up instantly in the morning with a keystroke or mouse click. With the screen connected there is no other way to wake the iMac but with a cold restart.

          1. Gabe

            Hey all,

            I feel like I’m in “mac problems anonymous…” so thanks for the support.

            Kristoff, I have the exact same conclusion about the monitor. I’ve got a late 2015 5k Retina iMac and over the course of my trouble shooting, my external monitor looks like the cause of its inability to wake as you’ve described. I’ve got the 23″ apple cinema monitor, though, and i’m using a Rocketfish adapter to Thunderbolt. No cure yet, tech support doesn’t know anything about it.

    2. Jester Graphix

      I am having the same issues with the same exact system. Im also having issues with random freezes and with some adobe apps not launching. The fixes above worked for about a week and now i am back to any sleep longer than an hour needing to force shutdown and reboot. very frustrating!

  7. Chad

    I have a 2015 MBP running El Capitan. I did this 3 days ago and haven’t had the problem since. If the problem arises again, I will reply back.

    1. Ryan

      @Chad, did which in particular, just the terminal commands or also the FileVault and hibernation file deletion?

  8. Jon

    i’m having the same problem with a new iMac I just bought in December running El Capitan. very frustrating. will try the tips above and feedback if it works

  9. Vernie

    MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) have the same problem but the suggested solution does not work. πŸ™

    Apple support have no solution on this one. The SMC reset only help by restoring the screen from previously black the moment the system sleeps but that’s it. NVRAM reset does not help either. These two reset options are what is recommended by Apple support.

  10. Vernie

    Did a diagnostic on my hardware, it’s the same thing anyway on what they do at the service center to check for hardware defect. By pressing D (for diagnostic) or Option D (for online diagnostic) at boot will bring the diagnostic setup and tell you if something is wrong or not. My hardware is reported to be ok. The program gave a code after testing and requested to submit it to apple with the serial number.

    This issue is a software bug that apple is not fixing the fact that it’s been there for several years across different versions of their OS and it is more of a problem for newer hardware release that it cannot be fixed with the work around presented on this page.

    1. jefo13

      Im finding out that if self sleeping there is no issue but when I sleep by Command-Option-Media Eject then the issue resurfaces

  11. Liz

    I am having a related problem. Mid 2013 MacAir running Yosemite 10.10.5. Apple says all the hardware, etc. checks out. Battery gets lower than 40% (often in the 30’s, just did it now at 18%). Goes into sleep mode abruptly and won’t wake up. ALL the lights are off – apple icon, keyboard, screen. Will only wake up if I do a power button shut down and then restart. Apple says nothing is wrong (using their diagnostics). This problem started after I had the keyboard replaced. They have re-plugged back in the monitor and that did not solve the problem. At the same time they changed the name of some file so that I could install a MS office update – said some file had the wrong name (that solved that problem). Any ideas how to fix it or what is wrong so I can tell apple so they can fix it?

    1. Liz

      Update: When they replaced the keyboard apparently they also unplugged the screen to do the work. I went back to apple again complaining about the problem and that it started when they replaced my keyboard. Again everything checked out, but this time they decided to “”t the plug for the screen (unplug it and plug it back in? Not sure exactly what they did – my impression was to unplug it and replug it to make sure it was plugged in securely). Problem solved. At least so far, knock on wood. Been a week and a half.

  12. samcomet

    FWIW – Updated from Yosemite to El Capitan on my Mac Pro (early 2009) a few days prior. Since the new OS my MP will NOT wake from sleep if there are any apps running. The LED on my ethernet hub glows red (no signal) and no amount of key or mouse clicking will help. Hard power button restart is the only way to wake it. BUT it IS interesting that if I quit all applications, bar Finder, I seem to have no problems waking the Mac and the LED’s on my hub stay green to indicate comms between my Mac and the hub. Not really ideal but perhaps this might be indicative of the “hibernation” issue stated above…..????

  13. ashen

    hay all i have mac book air 2013 Recently i upgrade it from os x yousmate to el eclip every think works fine but when i turn it into sleep mode it feel like in sleeping but after a few second when i press any key (except power button ) nothing happen it should be ON but when i press the power button its booting showing me i shout down it i check its energy system i put automatically turn of display timing into 3.00 hours but nothing happen every time it shout down at sleep mode help me what should i do i also re install my os el eclip with usb but nothing happen

  14. davemstrom

    I just fixed this problem with my late 2012 non-retina MacBook Pro. I had upgraded to El Capitan, 16 GB RAM, and an SSD drive. Blazingly fast now! But I had been having restart issues, some of which I might have fixed by eliminating some start-up apps. But lately, my MacBook was freezing or behaving badly every time I woke it up after it slept for more than half an hour: in other words, when it went into hibernation. I shut hibernation off at the command line. Wakes up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed now.

    (Hope I am not being premature about declaring a little victory. I just did this last night, and thus my victory has not withstood the test of time.)

  15. Amo

    only the command sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage has worked for me.
    My config : HDD ((Data) main bay), SSD ((OS) optical bay). Os x 10.7.5 macbook A1181

  16. Amo

    Fixed !
    This have done the job (the “SWPROX” post) :

  17. Cathy

    Yeah, well, how do you change the hibernation settings if you can’t turn the freakin’ computer on? I can’t do any of the suggestions here because my mac book is completely dead even after installing a new battery and a new adapter. (60 W).
    I got this mac book from amazon, mint condition, it said. Yeah, it was a beautiful machine but after powering it up a few times and trying to get used to it, as I have three PC’s, a warning came up that said, plug in the adapter because the battery was low. I did and the battery percentage kept going down and there was nothing I could do about it. It finally said it was going into either a sleep or a deep sleep, don’t remember.
    So, I bought a new adapter and a new battery, installed and still nothing. I’m so disgusted with the thing, I wish I could just heave it out the window and forget I even bought it. Not only wasted money on the computer but also a battery and adapter that I didn’t need.

  18. pongsaton

    try to change

    system preferences\security & privacy\general\require password
    from 1 minute to 5 seconds

    for my mac book air (mid 2011) this method is work.

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  20. Nickj

    Working off an iMac late 2012 with 10.11.6

    Just wanted to thank to Ken H. and MacIssues for posting the “sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage” tip which, in my case, solved this annoying problem of my Mac no coming out from sleep once or more a day ever since I moved to El Capitan. Running now 3 days without any problems so far.


  21. Nickj

    Spoke too soon… on the 4th day the problem came back. Trying now the “Turn off system hibernation” solution….


  22. April

    This sounded promising until the command line stuff. I can’t get to Terminal. My computer when to sleep while i was listening to Spotify and playing on my Xbox One. I tried moving my mouse and keyboard but the computer screen remained black, though if I double clicked i could hear the Spotify song changing. I tried doing a PRAM and SMC reset but the computer boots to a black screen. I have no way of logging in or doing anything in Terminal.

  23. Frans

    I fixed my problem. My iMac 27″ late 2011refuses to wake from sleep very often. The computer inside starts running but the screen stays off. If I let the computer alone it will wake after about 10 minutes.

    But now I seem to have found a solution. If I put my computer to sleep using key command: alt-cmd-eject it will always wake up when I hit the space bar!

    Good luck!

  24. Joseph Sobry

    I have a similar problem except that the iMAC I7 runs very hot while in sleep mode and nothing will stop this situation except a power off sequence followed by power on and boot.
    I think this machine wakes up during sleep and goes into a tight cpu loop keeping the system hot and wasting lots of electricity.
    Exactly the opposite from what one expects .

  25. chrisc

    Since the (MacBook Pro) won’t wake up from sleep, I am unable to alter the hibernation settings suggested. I took it to the local Apple agent who quoted a price equal to 120% more than I paid for it to replace the logic board
    For a computer only 22 months old, this is outrageous. The Apple agent told me that if they cannot get it working in 10 mins, they just replace parts

  26. William Ingram

    How does one undo the fix–sudo pmset standby 0?
    How about undoing sudo pmset autopoweroff 0?

  27. Kevin

    I have a mid 2012 MacBook pro running Sierra. After updating to the current version of Sierra, the computer would not wake from sleep. Usually the screen would display the box to enter the password, but you could not do so. I tried the “sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage” with some success. The computer would wake a couple of times then it was back to the usual problem.
    After trying the other “fixes in different combinations,” what has seemed to worked the longest (4 days so far) was to disable the “European power setting” by using the “sudo pmset autopoweroff 0”
    The computer now will wake respond after a sleep.

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