Spellbook of sleep

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spellbook of
+   sleep   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 5.09%
Base price 100 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 1
Ink to write 5–9
Spell type enchantment
Level 1
Power cost 5 Pw
Direction ray
Equivalent wand of sleep

In NetHack, the spellbook of sleep allows you to learn the spell of sleep.


Monks have a 1 in 3 chance of starting with this spellbook.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

As of commit d452242a, sleep is now a level 3 spell, and Monks no longer have a chance of starting with it.

As a level 3 spellbook it now takes 15-29 magic marker charges to write.

Also, as of commit c73595cc, the probability changed to 30 permille and turns required to read changed to 2 turns (although the defined delay didn't change here, learn_spell() makes adjustments based on book level).


Casting it has the same effect as zapping a wand of sleep: monsters will be put to sleep for (level/2 + 1)d25 turns, where level is your experience level.[1]

Monsters can resist this spell with monster magic resistance, and it has no effect on already-sleeping or paralyzed monsters. Attacking monsters in melee has a 10% chance of waking them up. Bolts of sleep bounce from walls and unidentified secret doors, but are absorbed by known doors.


Sleep is a powerful offensive spell, and should be used as such. You can use it to help defeat or escape difficult monsters (unless the monster has high monster magic resistance or sleep resistance); just be careful where the beam bounces. You might want to check each turn with a stethoscope if you need to re-cast sleep instead of attacking. If you are resistant or have reflection, try to bounce it off walls and hit monsters twice, in case the first zap misses or the monster resists.

If you want to kill a minotaur for their wand of digging or an aligned priest for his items, casting sleep is a wise first move even if you are polymorphed into a strong fighter form. You still want reflection in the event the temple's god smites you with lightning. Once you have sent an enemy to sleep, be cautious about attacking it in melee unless you can defeat it normally. In particular, if you have sent a floating eye or Medusa to sleep, never count on the sleep to keep you alive.

Although drums and horns are superb (and vastly underappreciated) scaring tools in crowd combat, they don't mix well with sleeping monsters.

You can use this spell to park a heavy monster on an altar so that you can kill it there without having it run away from you. The spell can also halt your pet before it stumbles into a trap, or attacks a creature you want alive, without decreasing tameness or otherwise counting as abuse.

A wizard or a hero with high Luck might reasonably want to write this spellbook if they find a magic marker, retrying until they succeed.


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-364}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.