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The Long Rest rules read as:

Long Rest

A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which you sleep or perform light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours of the rest period. If the rest is interrupted by a strenuous activity—such as attacking, taking damage, or casting a spell—you must start the rest over to gain any benefit from it, unless the interruption takes less than an hour. You must have at least 1 hit point to take a long rest. At the end of the rest, you regain all your hit points and half of your maximum number of Hit Dice (round up). You cannot benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period.

The elven Trance trait reads as:

Trance: 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.

The Warforged Living Construct trait reads as:

Living Construct: Even though you were constructed, you are a humanoid. You are immune to disease. You do not need to eat or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish. Instead of sleeping, you enter a sleep-like state. You need to remain in it for only 4 hours each day. You do not dream; instead, you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal.

I have heard two views regarding these rules:

  • An Elf or Warforged can get the benefit of a Long Rest in only 4 hours.
  • The 4 hours only applies to not being exhausted, 8 hours is still required get the benefits of a Long Rest.

Which is it? Please provide supporting information, possibly from previous versions.

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I expect the rules to change to read "half a long rest" rather than 4 hours. Since long rest and short rest will become "dials" which can change from game to game. –  GMNoob Jun 9 '14 at 14:31
Good point. It's unfortunate that there is ambiguity in the way it is worded currently. –  Aaron Jun 9 '14 at 15:37

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

According to Mearls & Crawford, the elf still needs 8 hours of rest to get the full benefits of sleep.

Q: does Trance allow elves to get the benefit of long rest in 4 hours instead of 8?

A: nope, they still need 8 hours of rest, but spend only 4 of it zonked out. -M

From: http://www.enworld.org/forum/content.php?1900-D-D-5th-Edition-Sage-Advice-from-Designers-Mearls-Crawford

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This is... really wierd. At least to me. But thank you for bringing this to our attention. –  doppelgreener Sep 25 '14 at 1:12
Thanks for the edit. I thought it weird too, but since I saw this post first I thought adding the other information I saw would be useful. Wouldn't be the first time Mearls was wrong either. ;) –  Guy Sep 25 '14 at 1:21

Both races receive the benefits of a Long Rest in only 4 hours

In the rules quote about the Elf Feature Trance it explicitly states that you gain the same benefits as a human does from 8 hours of sleep. Since Long Rest specifies a minimum of 8 hours the description of Trance in the rules would then mean that by meditating for 4 hours an Elf receives the exact benefits of sleeping for 8 hours: fulfilling a long rest.

While the Warforged Living Construct feature is less explicit, its wording is very close to that of the Elf Trance feature and just on the D&D Next rules alone should work the same way.

In 4e Warforged have an identical feature

In 4e what D&D Next calls a Long Rest is called an Extended Rest.

Warforged have the Unsleeping Watcher feature.

Unsleeping Watcher: You do not sleep and instead enter a state of inactivity for 4 hours to gain the benefits of an extended rest. While in this state, you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal.

In 4e only Drow have the Trance Feature

Trance (Drow): Rather than sleep, drow enter a meditative state known as trance. You need to spend 4 hours in this state to gain the same benefits other races gain from taking a 6-hour extended rest. While in a trance, you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal.

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"In 4e only Drow have the Trance Feature": Eladrin also trance. –  Ellesedil Dec 29 '14 at 15:25
This answer is wrong. For a human, the benefits of 8 hours of sleep are as follows: not getting exhausted from lack of sleep. Elves get those benefits in 4 hours of trance. Incidentally, 8 hours of sleep also fulfill Long Rest requirements; 4 hours of trance do not. –  Nicolas Daoust Jan 24 at 8:32
@NicolasDaoust Perhaps you should make that an answer? –  GMJoe Apr 8 at 7:17

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