Difference between sleep() and wait() in Java

1. Introduction

In Java, managing the execution of threads is crucial for multi-threaded applications. sleep() and wait() are two mechanisms that can pause the execution of threads, but they are used in different scenarios. sleep() is a method that pauses the thread for a specific period of time. On the other hand, wait() is a method that pauses a thread until it's notified, typically by another thread.

2. Key Points

1. sleep() is a static method that belongs to the Thread class and does not release the monitor.

2. wait() is a method of the Object class that releases the monitor and must be called from a synchronized context.

3. sleep() keeps the lock for the duration of the sleep.

4. wait() releases the lock immediately for other objects to acquire.

5. A thread resumes execution from sleep() once the specified time period is over.

6. A thread resumes from wait() when notify() or notifyAll() is called on the object it's waiting on.

3. Differences

sleep() wait()
Does not release the lock. Releases the lock.
Belongs to the Thread class. Belongs to an Object class.
Pauses the thread for a specified time. Pauses the thread until it's notified.

4. Example

public class SleepAndWait {

    private static final Object LOCK = new Object();

    public static void main(String[] args) throws InterruptedException {
        Thread sleepThread = new Thread(() -> {
            try {
                // Step 1: The thread sleeps for 2000 milliseconds
                System.out.println("Sleeping thread is going to sleep.");
                System.out.println("Sleeping thread woke up.");
            } catch (InterruptedException e) {

        Thread waitThread = new Thread(() -> {
            synchronized (LOCK) {
                try {
                    // Step 2: The thread waits until it gets notified
                    System.out.println("Waiting thread is going to wait.");
                    System.out.println("Waiting thread got notified.");
                } catch (InterruptedException e) {


        // Ensuring the waiting thread goes on wait
        synchronized (LOCK) {
            // Step 3: Notifying the waiting thread


Sleeping thread is going to sleep.
Waiting thread is going to wait.
Waiting thread got notified.
Sleeping thread woke up.


1. sleepThread calls sleep() causing it to sleep for 2 seconds regardless of any other operations.

2. waitThread calls wait() within a synchronized block, releasing the lock on LOCK and waiting to be notified.

3. The main thread sleeps for half a second to ensure waitThread gets to wait().

4. The main thread then synchronizes on LOCK and calls notify(), which wakes up waitThread.

5. When to use?

- Use sleep() when you want to pause the execution of the current thread for a specified period without releasing any locks.

- Use wait() when you need to have a thread pause its execution until some condition is met and it's notified by another thread, typically in a producer-consumer scenario.