Help, my MacBook won't go to sleep: Here's the fix

Not only do humans have problems with sleep. A Mac that won’t go to sleep when it normally would, either when inactive for a period of time or when you close it down, is potentially a symptom of wider problems or an issue with settings that can be fixed fairly easily. Alongside a Mac not sleeping, Macs will sometimes go to sleep when least expected, which can be equally problematic. 

For those encountering these Mac sleeping problems, let’s look at a few solutions and hopefully get your Mac waking and sleeping when you need it working. 

How to get a Mac to sleep? 

Follow these easy steps to ensure that you got rid of all system distractions that could prevent your Mac from going to sleep mode.

1. Check Battery settings 

Start by seeing that the Battery settings are appropriate for what you need. 

  1. Go to the Apple () menu > System Preferences.
  2. Within System Preferences, go to Battery.
  3. Choose Battery from the left-side menu. 
  4. Within this is a “Turn display off after” slider. Drag the slider to set sleep times. 
  5. Now, choose Power Adapter. 
  6. Likewise, adjust the “Turn display off after” slider here. 
  7. Uncheck "Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off." 

Using these, you can control when your Mac goes to sleep or wakes and adjust settings accordingly. You can even use the Schedule button to get it to wake and sleep on a fixed timer, such as your working hours. 

2. Make sure apps aren't preventing sleep 

Next, check within Activity Monitor if there are any apps that could be keeping your Mac awake when it should be shut down and asleep. There is a column in Activity Monitor that can prevent it from going into sleep mode - make sure none of your apps (whether native macOS or third-party) have “Yes” ticked next to the Preventing Sleep column. 


Untick any that you would rather be asleep during periods of inactivity. 

3. Delete system junk on your drive

Over time all your applications (and macOS itself) create tons of system junk: outdated entries, caches, support files. Such uncontrolled expansion of system junk results in software glitches. This may also cause “sleep problems” for your computer.

Delete system junk using the eponymous tool in CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X - System Junk

  1. Download the app’s free version.
  2. Install and run the System Junk tool.
  3. Check if your Mac’s sleep has been restored to normal.

As a bonus, running this program makes your Mac smoother and more responsive.

4. Reset the NVRAM or PRAM

Another solution is to try and reset the NVRAM or PRAM after following the steps outlined above. 

  1. Turn your Mac off (shut it down the safe way, closing apps beforehand);  
  2. Turn it back on, immediately pressing the Option, Command, P, and R keys for 20 seconds; 
  3. Now it should start up as it would normally; 
  4. Leave it for long enough that it would go to sleep (a period of inactivity) to make sure the sleep mode is working as it should. 

5. Scan for background apps 

Some apps stay running and therefore prevent your Mac from going to sleep. These could be forgotten login items or even malicious malware that keeps an app running in the background, stopping a Mac from going to sleep. 

To solve this particular problem, we recommend the following approach: 

  1. Download CleanMyMac X — it's available for a free download
  2. Click on the Optimization tab > Launch Agents
CleanMyMac X - Launch Agents

Disable any agents you don't need or ones that aren't working as they should; 

CleanMyMac X is a handy Mac maintenance app. It comes with a whole load of troubleshooting tools even when you don't know the source of the problem. It can also scan your system for malware and any other issues causing your Mac to stay awake. 

Hope this article was helpful. Come back for more Mac tips.

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