What is the JavaScript version of sleep()?

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Is there a better way to engineer a sleep in JavaScript than the following pausecomp function (taken from here)?

function pausecomp(millis)
    var date = new Date();
    var curDate = null;
    do { curDate = new Date(); }
    while(curDate-date < millis);

This is not a duplicate of Sleep in JavaScript – delay between actions; I want a real sleep in the middle of a function, and not a delay before a piece of code executes.

First answer

2017 — 2019 update

Since 2009 when this question was asked, JavaScript has evolved significantly. All other answers are now obsolete or overly complicated. Here is the current best practice:

function sleep(ms) {
  return new Promise(resolve => setTimeout(resolve, ms));

async function demo() {
  console.log('Taking a break...');
  await sleep(2000);
  console.log('Two seconds later, showing sleep in a loop...');

  // Sleep in loop
  for (let i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    if (i === 3)
      await sleep(2000);


This is it. await sleep(<duration>).

Note that,

  1. await can only be executed in functions prefixed with the async keyword, or at the top level of your script in some environments (e.g. the Chrome DevTools console, or Runkit).
  2. await only pauses the current async function

Two new JavaScript features helped write this “sleep” function:


If for some weird reason you’re using Node older than 7 (which has reached end of life), or are targeting old browsers, async/await can still be used via Babel (a tool that will transpile JavaScript + new features into plain old JavaScript), with the transform-async-to-generator plugin.

Second answer

(See the updated answer for 2016)

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to want to perform an action, wait, then perform another action. If you are used to writing in multi-threaded languages, you probably have the idea of yielding execution for a set amount of time until your thread wakes up.

The issue here is that JavaScript is a single-thread event-based model. While in a specific case, it might be nice to have the whole engine wait for a few seconds, in general it is bad practice. Suppose I wanted to make use of your functions while writing my own? When I called your method, my methods would all freeze up. If JavaScript could somehow preserve your function’s execution context, store it somewhere, then bring it back and continue later, then sleep could happen, but that would basically be threading.

So you are pretty much stuck with what others have suggested — you’ll need to break your code up into multiple functions.

Your question is a bit of a false choice, then. There is no way to sleep in the way you want, nor should you pursue the solution you suggest.

Third answer

In JavaScript, I rewrite every function so that it can end as soon as possible. You want the browser back in control so it can make your DOM changes.

Every time I’ve wanted a sleep in the middle of my function, I refactored to use a setTimeout().

I am going to edit this answer because i found this as useful:

The infamous sleep, or delay, function within any language is much debated. Some will say that there should always be a signal or callback to fire a given functionality, others will argue that sometimes an arbitrary moment of delay is useful. I say that to each their own and one rule can never dictate anything in this industry.

Writing a sleep function is simple and made even more usable with JavaScript Promises:

// sleep time expects milliseconds
function sleep (time) {
  return new Promise((resolve) => setTimeout(resolve, time));

// Usage!
sleep(500).then(() => {
    // Do something after the sleep!
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