My nidorino was put to sleep in battle and then got its defense lowered by leer. How does that work? How do things like leer, scary face, or mean look work on sleeping pokemon?
I dunno. Magic?
Truth is, the battle mechanics of the Pokémon games are not really meant as a 100% accurate simulation of anything, and there are probably a million and one things that don’t make too much sense when you look too closely at them, but which we just accept because the game needs to have understandable and predictable rules in order to be playable. I think this is best illustrated by looking at what happens when you run the exact same imaginary scenario (a Pokémon using an intimidation technique like Leer on a sleeping opponent) through a different set of rules – those of the trading card game. Exactly what Leer does in the TCG varies slightly depending on the Pokémon using it, but basically it tends to stop the target from attacking, and sometimes also from switching out, during its next turn (Mean Look only seems to prevent switching; Scary Face always prevents both). So what happens when it’s used on a sleeping Pokémon? Well, sleeping Pokémon normally can’t do either of those things in the TCG anyway, so the answer is “nothing,” much as you’d expect. Neither system of rules is ever going to be complex enough to provide the intuitively “correct” answer to every possible imagined scenario; there are always going to be weird corner cases that throw up an interaction that just doesn’t seem to make sense. I think in those situations the best thing to do is ask “what would probably happen in the anime?” because the anime is less constrained by the need for absolute consistency in the rules – and in this case, I suspect the answer (if anyone ever actually made a move like that, which strikes me as unlikely) is, again, “nothing.”