How to Change Windows Sleep Settings

Control when your Windows PC sleeps

Computer asleep with ZZZ in dialog bubble on the screen


alexmillos / Getty Images

Almost all electronic devices go into some form of low power mode after a specific, predetermined period of inactivity. This feature is often intended to improve battery life or secure the device, as is the case with mobile phones and tablet computers, but the technology can also be used to prevent internal parts from wearing out sooner than they should. For example, smart TVs often turn on a screen saver to prevent image burn-in on the screen.

Just like these devices, you’ve likely noticed that your computer goes dark after a specific amount of time, too. Most of the time, the computer goes to "sleep." If you find yourself having to wake your computer from sleep more than you'd like, or you'd like it to go to sleep sooner, you can change the preconfigured, factory settings.

This article is aimed at folks running Windows 10, 8.1 and 7. If you have a Mac, check out this great article about changing sleep settings for the Mac.

To Change Sleep Settings on Any Windows Computer, Select a Power Plan

A screen shot of the Power Options window in Control Panel on a Windows 10 computer.

All Windows computers offer three power plans, and they each have different settings for when the computer sleeps. The three plans are Power Saver, Balanced, and High Performance. One way to quickly change Sleep settings it to choose one of these plans.

The Power Saver plan puts the computer to sleep the fastest, which is a great option for laptop users who want to get the most out of their battery or those simply trying to save electricity. Balanced is the default and is often the best option for general users, as it is neither too restrictive or too limiting. High Performance leaves the computer active the longest before it goes to sleep. This setting will result in the battery draining more quickly if left as the default.

To select a new Power Plan and apply its default Sleep settings:

  1. Right-click the Network icon on the Taskbar.
  2. Select Power Options
  3. In the resulting window, click the arrow by Show Additional Plans to see the High Performance option.
  4. To see the default settings for any plan, click Change Plan Settings next to the Power Plan you are considering. Then, click Cancel to return to the Power Options window. Repeat as desired.
  5. Select the Power Plan to apply.

Although you can make changes to the Power Plan using the method described here, we think it’s easier (and a best practice) for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users to learn to make the changes in Settings, which is detailed next. 

Change Sleep Settings in Windows 10

A screen shot of the Power & Sleep options in Settings.

To change Sleep settings on a Windows 10 computer using Settings:

  1. Click the Start button in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  2. Type "Sleep" and select Power & Sleep Settings, which will likely be the first option.
  3. Click the arrow by the drop-down lists to configure the settings exactly as you want. 
  4. Click the X in the top right corner of this window to close it. 

On laptops, you can make changes based on whether the device is plugged in or on battery power. Desktop computers only offer Sleep options for when the computer is plugged in though because they do not have batteries.  

Change Sleep Settings in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

A screen shot of the Windwos 8.1 Start screen with a search for Sleep settings.

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 computers offer a Start screen. To get to this screen tap the Windows key on the keyboard. Once at the Start screen:

  1. Type "Sleep".
  2. In the results, select Power and sleep settings.
  3. Select the desired options from the resulting lists to apply them.

Change Sleep Settings in Windows 7

A screen shot of Windows 7 Power Options.

Windows 7 doesn’t offer a Settings area like Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10. All changes are made in Control Panel, including those for Power and Sleep. Open Control Panel by clicking the Start button and then Control Panel.

Once in Control Panel:

  1. Click the Power Options icon.
  2. Select the desired Power Plan and then click Change Plan Settings.
  3. Use the ​lists to apply the desired settings and click Save Changes.
  4. Close Control Panel by clicking the X in the top right corner of the window.