Can You Sleep in Armor in D&D? (7 Things You Need To Know)

Given how often adventurers get ambushed at night, it makes sense for characters to sleep fully armored for battle.

Can you sleep in armor in D&D?

Characters in D&D can sleep in light, medium, or heavy armor. Sleeping in light armor has no negative effect. Sleeping in medium or heavy armor can impact rest, recovery, exhaustion levels, and regained hit points. Magical items, character size, and spells can mitigate these negative effects.

In this article, we will break down and fully answer the question “Can you sleep in Armor?”

Can You Sleep in Armor in D&D? (Light Armor)

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D&D characters can sleep in light armor.

According to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:

Sleeping in light armor has no adverse effect on the wearer, but sleeping in medium or heavy armor makes it difficult to recover fully during a long rest. When you finish a long rest during which you slept in medium or heavy armor, you regain only one quarter of your spent Hit Dice (minimum of one die). If you have any levels of exhaustion, the rest doesn’t reduce your exhaustion level.

Light armor includes leather, padded, and studded armor.

From a purely logical standpoint, it makes sense for adventurers to rest with some protection covering their sensitive bits.

Especially if the Dungeon Master (DM) has them sleeping in dangerous places.

Places like woods full of flesh-eating spider-monkeys.

Related: Can Barbarians Wear Armor? (Answered for Beginners)

Can You Sleep in Armor in D&D? (Medium Armor)

D&D player characters can sleep in medium armor, however, they will suffer some downsides.

Namely:

  • Not feeling fully refreshed and recovered
  • Pain and soreness in their bodies
  • Regain fewer hit points
  • Levels of exhaustion will not be reduced

Based on the guidelines in Zanathar’s Guide to Everything, your character will only get back a quarter of your hit points.

For example, if you play a 1st level Druid, you might possess 8 hit points.

During an adventure, you lose four hitpoints and decide to take a long rest in your medium armor.

After a long rest, you only regain 1 hit point (a quarter of the four hit points you lost).

Can You Sleep in Armor in D&D? (Heavy Armor)

In Dungeons and Dragons, characters can sleep in heavy armor.

Unfortunately, this could have a big impact on the character’s gameplay.

Referencing back to the rules in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, you’re character will suffer consequences to hit points, exhaustion levels, and overall recovery.

There are six levels of exhaustion in D&D:

  1. Disadvantage on Ability Checks
  2. Speed reduced by half
  3. Disadvantage on Attack rolls and Saving Throws
  4. Hitpoint maximum reduced by half
  5. Speed reduced to 0
  6. Death

If you sleep in medium or heavy armor, your character may wake up tired, sore, barely able to move, and severely disadvantaged in combat.

Can You Sleep in Magical Armor?

One interesting question about sleeping in armor is “What about magical armor?”

After a little digging around in D&D rulebooks, I discovered that there is absolutely no reason a wizard can not sleep in Mage Armor.

Mage Armor is a spell that is conjured by the wizard (or sorcerer, warlock, etc) and is not actual armor.

It’s magic.

Even better, it’s magic that does not require concentration and lasts 8 full hours.

As such, sleeping in Mage Armor will allow your spellcasting character to enjoy the upsides of sleeping in armor without the downsides.

A magical character can even cast Mage Armor on another player character.

Here’s How To Sleep in Armor Without Any Negative Side Effects

Besides using magical armor, there is another way to sleep in armor without any negative effects.

The key is size (yep, size matters after all).

There are actually two ways:

  • Shrink yourself
  • Find giant armor

Shrinking Yourself Down to Size

If you shrink yourself down, the armor will fit like a glove.

If you play a tiny or small character, then you may not even need to shrink at all. As a tiny character, you can easily slip into regular-sized armor (even heavy armor).

The armor effectively serves as your sleeping quarters.

It’s a safe cave of steel instead of providing literally armor protection. Therefore, there are obvious drawbacks in terms of safety from enemies.

However, your character can technically sleep in armor without recovery issues.

Sleep in Giant Armor

Giant’s are big and strong enough to carry around heavy steel without issue.

As for the availability of giant armor, this is something where your Dungeon Master (DM) might need to do some pre-planning.

Using this method, you locate giant armor, slip inside, and rest.

Like the shrinking solution, you will not gain any advantage from the armor in terms of actual protection.

Yet, it is a creative way to sleep in armor without losing your rest and recovery.

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Magical Items for Sleeping in Heavy Armor

Since I’m not aware of any official magic items specifically made to help characters sleep in heavy armor without ill effect, you will need to build an item.

Perhaps a potion that gives a character temporary immunity to exhaustion and ability disadvantage.

The only catch is that the effect lasts for 8 hours and your character might feel a bit groggy upon first waking.

Another option might be some sort of wearable magical item—ring, helmet, breastplate, fake tooth—that grants long-term protection from these types of negative effects.

It will depend on your DM if you can get away with this kind of thing.

But it’s worth asking your Dungeon Master (DM) and seeing how he or she might rule on the matter.

Can You Sleep in Armor in D&D? (Official vs Homebrew Rules)

It’s important to note that the rule in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is official but not mandatory.

You can still play official D&D by the “rules as written” (RAW) without using it.

Ultimately, like everything else, it’s up to your particular Dungeon Master. Some DMs just assume player characters are always wearing armor (unless specified).

Other DMs shoot for more realism.

A DM can ask, “Are you all sleeping in your armor?” The answer will help them determine rest, exhaustion, and hit points.

Can Elves Trance in Armor Without Any Negative Effects?

Many people confuse the elven trance ability with sleep. However, they are not exactly synonymous terms or experiences.

Therefore, yes, elves can trance in armor without suffering negative effects.

I base this conclusion on the description of Elven Trance in the Player’s Handbook:

Elves do not need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply for 4 hours a day. (The Common word for such meditation is “trance.”) While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

When elves trance, they are not sleeping but meditating. The optional sleeping in armor rule would not apply.

Therefore, an elf gains the benefits of 8 hours of sleep without any downside.

If your DM is a stickler about rules and chooses to follow Xanathar’s sleeping rule, then it might make sense to play an elf.

Final Thoughts: Can You Sleep in Armor in D&D?

If you’ve never tried sleeping in body armor or chain mail in real life, I highly recommend the experience.

It’ll give you deep empathy for your adventures.

Especially those sleeping out in the cold forest with one eye open for spider monkeys.

Sources

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Player’s Handbook