It’s that classic fantasy spell, isn’t it? One that has been an iconic part of myths and fairy tales since the earliest times, as popular in travelers’ tales told around the roadside campfire as it is in modern film and books.
What is Sleep 5e Spell?
You can see it now, the evil witch enchanting the hero to thwart him in his quest or the plucky spell-weaving adventurer causing a whole gang of kobold adversaries to fall asleep so that the good guys can sneak past them without incident.
It’s a story as old as time itself, so it should come as no surprise that it is a popular mainstay of the DnD spell book and the magical weapon of choice for any discerning spell caster.
Sleep 5e Spell Description
This spell sends creatures into a magical slumber. Roll 5d8; the total is how many hit points of creatures this spell can affect. Creatures within 20 feet of a point you choose within range are affected in ascending order of their current hit points (ignoring unconscious creatures).
Starting with the creature that has the lowest current hit points, each creature affected by this spell falls unconscious until the spell ends, the sleeper takes damage, or someone uses an action to shake or slap the sleeper awake. Subtract each creature’s hit points from the total before moving on to the creature with the next lowest hit points.
A creature’s hit points must be equal to or less than the remaining total for that creature to be affected. Undead and creatures immune to being charmed aren’t affected by this spell.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, roll an additional 2d8 for each slot level above 1st.
Sleep 5e Stats
|Components||V, S, M|
|Material||A pinch of fine sand, rose petals, or a cricket.|
|Casting Time||1 action|
|Area of Effect||20, sphere|
|Classes||Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard|
How Sleep 5e Spell Works
When cast, the Sleep Spell, as the name suggests, puts a number of your adversaries into a deep sleep. The targets must be within 20 feet of the point that the caster designates as the center of the area of effect, and that point, in turn, has to be within 90 feet of the caster itself.
To determine the effectiveness of the spell, the caster then rolls 5d8. The total number generated is the total number of hit points of your targets affected.
With the total number of hit points to be affected now determined, the DM can now set to work with the math. The creature in the target group with the lowest hit points, and therefore the weakest, is affected first.
As it hits the ground in an unconscious state, its hit point total is deducted from the total that governs the spell’s effectiveness. The next weakest creature is now affected by the spell, and their hit point score is deducted from the spell total, and they fall to the ground, snoring before their head even hits the floor.
This process continues until there are not enough hit points left to overcome the next creature fully. At this point, the spell has run its course, even if a few points of effectiveness are left. Even though the process means that you are determining who succumbs to the spell one after the other, the effects on the target creatures are simultaneous, and all affect slump to the ground as one.
Out For The Count
All creatures affected by the spell fall into a deep and peaceful sleep for its duration, which is one minute. Unless they are deliberately shaken awake or roused by some other action, such as taking a blow from a weapon, they will sleep for the entire minute.
As this spell is from the enchantment school, undead creatures and those magically or naturally immune to charm will remain unaffected by it.
The Sleep spell is available at the first Level, and it increases in effectiveness as the caster’s level increases. When this spell is cast using a spell slot of 2nd Level or higher, an additional 2d8 is rolled for each slot level above 1st.
Sleep Spell in Action
Joribund is a 3rd-level Wizard and is one of a party of adventurers exploring the sub-basement levels of an abandoned watchtower, now known to be the base for a gang of Orcish brigands. As the party enters a long corridor, they see a small band of Orc guards about 40 feet away. Luckily, the guards are distracted by their dice game, so the party has the advantage.
With a few deft gestures, a scattering of rose petals, and a few secret magical words, Joribund sends a Sleep Spell their way. Choosing a point in the group’s center means all six Orcs are within the 20ft area of the spell’s effect. The rest of the party ready their weapons and prepare to charge the group, but before that happens, the Dungeon Master must first calculate the effects of the spell.
Being a 3rd Level Wizard means that Joribund gets to roll 9d8… 5d8 for the spell and an additional 4d8 for being 2 Levels higher. The dice roll gives 27 points, not the best but far from the worst result.
The DM starts running the numbers. The smallest Orch has three hit points, he falls over, and those 3 points are deducted from the 27. The next Orc has four hit points being he keels over, leaving the spell with 20 points left to affect.
The next two burly orcs have five hit points each, so that is another ten points removed from the spell’s effectiveness which brings us down to 10 points left to run, so even the veteran guard sergeant at 6 points hits the ground snoring. That is 23 hit points of Sleep used and five orc guards that the party no longer have to worry about.
The spell still has 4 points of effect still to apply to the Orc foes, but the muscular and resilient Captain of the Guard, with his robust seven hit points, blinks little, stifles a small yawn, and shrugs off the remaining effects of the spell.
He may have survived the spell’s effects but is now standing alone, surrounded by a pile of sleeping comrades, as a collection of heavily armed surface dwellers come barrelling down the corridor. He tightens his belt, draws his sword, rethinks the situation, and takes the only sensible course of action. He flees down the corridor at top speed.
Who Can Use the Sleep Spell?
The spell is available to three classes: Bards, Sorcerers, and Wizards, and it requires three components: verbal, somatic, and material components. In the case of the latter, this is a pinch of sand, and some rose petals or a cricket. It takes one action to perform.
Both the Bard and Sorcerer classes have a set number of known spells depending on their Level, and they can pick up the Sleep spell right from the first Level since it is a first-level enchantment spell. In addition to this, every time they level up, they can change any existing spell they have with a new one.
So, if you do not have the Sleep spell as you set off on your adventuring career, don’t worry about it too much because you can swap an existing spell for this once you gain a level in the class. A Wizard can prepare spells equal to the character’s intelligence modifier plus the wizard level. If this equation results in a 0 or less, it automatically means the character can prepare only one spell.
Is Sleep 5e Spell Good?
The Sleep spell does look pretty potent, even in the formative stage of your magical career; a good roll result from your 5d8 roll can effectively thin the ranks of the oncoming Goblin pack; it could even take out a Bugbear or two or something, even more robust.
But bear in mind that if you don’t manage to plunge all of your opponents into Sleep and they are some way away from you, there might be time for them to be roused by those still wide awake. They will have lost a bit of initiative, but they might still be able to rejoin the melee.
It is also a spell that runs into a few problems when used at close quarters, as your comrades could easily find themselves in the splash zone of the spell’s area of effect. Also, if you find yourselves exploring the ever-popular temple or crypt destination, it is worth remembering that its undead denizens are immune to its charms.
Sleep 5e Spell FAQs
How long does Sleep last?
The effects of the Sleep Spell last one minute (ten rounds) or until they are deliberately woken or shocked out of their sleeping state.
Is Sleep good?
Yes, it is, particularly at the lower levels of the game. It is excellent as a form of crowd control and increases in potency with the Level of the caster.
How do you cast Sleep?
Sleep Spell requires at least one level one spell slot. You roll 5d8 to determine how many total hit points of your targets are affected, and this total is increased by 2d8 for every Level above the first the caster is.
Are Elves immune to Sleep?
Yes. Elves are immune to all forms of charm, so the spell has no effect.
Are the Undead immune to Sleep?
Yes. The undead cannot be charmed, and therefore the spell does not work on them.
How do you wake up from Sleep?
Those affected by the spell will sleep for one minute and then naturally wake as if from a normal sleep. If someone deliberately rouses them or is shocked out of their sleep state, they awake immediately.
Final Thoughts on Sleep 5e Spell
Sleep Spell is an excellent choice for lower-level adventures, although it is fair to say that the spell does lose some of its potency as you move up through the ranks. As the hit point totals of individual creatures you are likely to encounter go up, they become less likely to be devastated, like the low-level packs of Kobolds, Goblins, and Orcs were in the earlier days of your adventuring career.
But, for those formative dungeon runs at least, having the Wizard halve the number of wild-eyed, whirling dervishes via the timely use of a Sleep Spell as they rush to take a few chunks out of the party is an excellent anecdote for that post-adventure pint in the bar of Trumpet and Trousers Tavern.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.