Linux / UNIX: Bash Script Sleep or Delay a Specified Amount of Time

Posted on in Categories , , last updated September 11, 2016

How do I pause for 5 seconds or 2 minutes in my bash shell script on a Linux or Unix-like systems?

You need to use the sleep command to add delay for a specified amount of time. The syntax is as follows for gnu/bash sleep command:


Where SUFFIX may be:

  1. s for seconds (the default)
  2. m for minutes.
  3. h for hours.
  4. d for days.

To sleep for 5 seconds, use:
sleep 5
To sleep for 2 minutes, use:
sleep 2m
To sleep for 3 hours, use:
sleep 3h
To sleep for 5 days, use:
sleep 5d
The most common usage are as follows:

## run commmand1, sleep for 1 minute and finally run command2 ## 
command1 && sleep 1m && command2
## sleep in bash for loop ##
for i in {1..10}
  sleep 5s
## run while loop to display date and hostname on screen ##
while [ : ]
    tput cup 5 5
    tput cup 6 5
    echo "Hostname : $(hostname)"
    sleep 1

Sample outputs from last while loop:

Animated gif.01: Sleep command in action
Animated gif.01: Sleep command in action

sleep Command Bash Script Example

Here is a simple example:

echo "Hi, I'm sleeping for 5 seconds..."
sleep 5  
echo "all Done."

In this example, create the lock directory. I’m using [/\\:.-] here to ensure that we don’t use the same name that we are using for the .o file. Also, base the name on the expected object file name, since that is what matters with a parallel build.

lockdir=`echo "$cofile" | sed -e 's|[/\\:.-]|_|g'`.d
while true; do
  if mkdir "$lockdir" >/dev/null 2>&1; then
  sleep 1

11 comment

  1. with the command ‘sleep’ , for more information use the manual pages of sleep by ‘man sleep’.

    sleep 5s ; echo ‘end test sleep 5sec’
    sleep 1m; echo ‘end test sleep 1min’

    best regards

  2. FYI for searchers who are OSX users:

    The sleep command in OSX does NOT take any suffix arguments (m/h/d). It only takes arguments in seconds.

  3. There is two types of sleep command – a shell built in and the /bin/seep. Both bash built-in and /bin/sleep take the suffixes, however the built in for mksh (which is on android) does not take suffixes. It’s is the same distinction between /usr/bin/time and shell built-in time

  4. watch also would be handy:
    watch runs command repeatedly, displaying its output and errors (the first screenfull). This allows you to watch the program output change over time. By default, the program is run every 2 seconds. By default, watch will run until interrupted.

  5. Hi,

    I have a scenario that files for a day comes in the interval of 5-6 hour which is not exactly fixed some times may vary much and I have to keep eyes on them before executing my process.
    Can we schedule my process in such a way that it invokes multiple times if it fails in its previous attempt. Once it executed won’t be invoked again for the day.

    Thanks in Advance…!!!


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