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What is a short rest for an elf?

Elves in Dungeons & Dragons require rest just like any other race, but the amount of rest they need differs due to their Fey Ancestry. In game terms, a short rest for an elf is 1 hour long rather than the typical 1-8 hours needed for other races.

What is a short rest?

In D&D 5th edition, a short rest is a period of downtime that allows characters to spend Hit Dice to regain hit points, regain the use of some expended class features, and regain up to half their total of spent Hit Dice. The Player’s Handbook states that a short rest is at least 1 hour long, but no more than 8 hours.

During a short rest, a character can spend Hit Dice up to their maximum amount. For each Hit Die spent, the character regains hit points equal to the die roll + their Constitution modifier. Any character can use Hit Dice this way to heal during a short rest.

In addition, a short rest allows characters to regain some expended class features that recharge on a “short rest” basis. For example, a fighter can use Second Wind again after a short rest. Spellcasters who use the Spellcasting feature, like bards and clerics, also regain expended spell slots after a short rest. This allows them to cast those spells again.

Why is a short rest only 1 hour for elves?

An elf’s Fey Ancestry trait means they only need to meditate for 4 hours to get the benefit of an 8 hour long rest. This also allows them to take a short rest in just 1 hour rather than 1-8 hours.

The Player’s Handbook describes an elf’s Fey Ancestry trait as follows:

“Elves don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day. 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.”

Since elves can gain the benefits of a long rest in just 4 hours, it follows that they can gain the lesser benefits of a short rest in 1 hour. This reduced time makes short rests very handy for an elf character.

What can an elf do during a 1 hour short rest?

During their abbreviated 1 hour short rest, an elf can do all the usual things that any character does during a short rest:

  • Spend Hit Dice to regain hit points
  • Regain the use of abilities that recharge on a short rest
  • Regain up to half their spent Hit Dice

Some examples of things an elf could do during their 1 hour short rest:

  • A fighter elf could use Second Wind to heal and Action Surge again
  • A wizard elf could recover some lower level spell slots
  • A monk elf could use Ki points again for special attacks like Flurry of Blows
  • A rogue elf could use Cunning Action again

Thanks to their shorter rest time, elf characters can reuse their powers more often compared to other races. This gives them more flexibility in combat and adventure scenarios.

Does an elf still need a long rest?

Yes, even elves require a long rest to regain hit points and powers used up over many encounters. The main benefits of a long rest are:

  • Regain all lost hit points
  • Regain spent Hit Dice up to half your total
  • Regain all expended spell slots
  • Regain all expended class features that recharge on a long rest

Without a long rest, an elf would eventually run out of Hit Dice and spell slots. Taking a long rest allows them to start fresh again.

For an elf, a long rest is only 4 hours of meditation. This is a big advantage over other races that need 8 hours for a long rest. But elves still need to take them periodically to restore their powers.

How often can an elf take short rests?

Elves can take multiple short rests between their long rests:

  • 6 short rests during a standard 24 hour day
  • Or 3 short rests during an adventuring day of 8-12 hours

However, the DM may limit short rests based on circumstances like danger or time pressure in the story. An elf can’t always take a short rest whenever they like.

But thanks to their shorter duration, an elf can more easily take one short rest per encounter to recover and prepare for the next battle.

Advantages of short rests for elves

The key advantages of 1 hour short rests for elves are:

  • Reuse limited powers more often: Abilities like a fighter’s Action Surge recharge faster.
  • Regain spell slots: Spellcasters can cast more spells overall.
  • Heal up during adventures: Spend Hit Dice to heal without slowing down the team.
  • Fewer long rests needed: An elf can go longer between long rests.

This gives elf characters more flexibility and options during adventures. They can recover faster and exert their powers more often during dungeon crawls or long quests.

Disadvantages for elves

The main disadvantages are:

  • Only need 4 hour long rests: The rest of an adventuring party may need 8 hour long rests, forcing the elf to wait around.
  • Can exhaust powers faster: Daily powers can be used up quicker between long rests.
  • DM can limit rests: The DM controls the pacing and circumstances of the game.

So an elf needs to pace their power usage across adventures and be willing to wait if the rest of the party needs long rests. The DM may also limit rest opportunities as they see fit.


An elf’s Fey Ancestry allows them to take a short rest in just 1 hour, compared to 1-8 hours for other races. This allows extra uses of limited powers during an adventure day and more frequent healing. But elves still need periodic long rests to fully recharge.

Elf players should leverage their shorter rests for flexibility and options. But DMs can provide challenges by limiting rest periods or forcing longer waits for the sake of other players. When used strategically, the elf’s racial traits provide some nice benefits and interesting gameplay opportunities.