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Can you short rest during a long rest?

The situation is that the party needs to have a long rest. The spellcasters are pretty much all out of slots, we're low on hit die (I have none left).

There's a strong likelihood that we will be attacked if we long rest, but going back to town or somewhere else that's safer isn't really an option at this point; we have to rest in the hostile dungeon.

I'm a Fighter/Monk in this party, and I would like to have my Ki points, Second Wind and Action Surge ready for this rest-interrupting encounter when it happens (unless it happens during the first hour of the long rest, of course, but let's disregard that, because this question doesn't apply in that case).

So, would I regain the things I regain via short rests after the first hour of a long rest, so that I can use them if the long rest is interrupted later on?

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No, short rests and long rests are mutually exclusive.

The PHB has the following to say about long rests:

If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity - at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity - the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.

From this we can infer that if you are trying to take a long rest, you get no benefits from it until you complete the full rest. If sufficiently interrupted partway through - no matter how long you had been resting beforehand - you must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it. There is no allowance here for getting the benefits of a short rest if you managed to go at least an hour before getting interrupted.

As written, you would have to first choose to have a short rest, wait out that hour, and then begin a separate long rest if you wanted to try and get the long rest's benefits. Luckily, if the rest interruption lasts less than an hour - which would certainly be the case for most combats - you can finish the current rest and get the full benefit at the end.

V2Blast's answer includes reference to comments from the designers which clarify that these are the rules as intended, or at least as subsequently interpreted by their writers.

However...

I personally am not much a fan of this interpretation. A rest is a rest, and it doesn't make a lot of sense that how you feel after resting for an hour depends on whether you planned to only rest for an hour or were trying for a full night. Additionally, there is no requirement stated in the rules that the party must declare the kind of rest they are trying to have when they start to do so (the necessity to do so is only implied by the way that the designers think rests should work).

I would personally rule that: if you sit down to rest and make it at least an hour before being interrupted, you get the benefits of a short rest, and then if you continue resting to the full eight hours (and get your six hours of sleep), you get the benefits of a long rest.

Though you'd probably prepare a little differently if deliberately settling down for a long rest as opposed to a short one, the actual activity restrictions during short or long rests are almost identical save for that a long rest requires you to get six hours of sleep in the eight hours total - that leaves two hours in which you can do exactly what you would have been doing if you were taking a short rest, so they hardly seem exclusive to me. If you enforce separation between long and short rests, you're likely to have awkward logistics where wary players always have a short rest and then have a long rest, in order to get the short rest's benefits just in case they are interrupted during the night - and this mechanical complexity seems unnecessary and unrealistic. Just let a character rest!

It is important to note that this covers one continuous resting period (as the rules say, long and short rests are periods of "at least" the specified time) and so I would say you should only be able to take the benefits of a short rest once, after the first hour of the rest period; if you allow every hour of an eight-hour rest to count as an individual short rest as well as being a part of a long rest, you will probably run into some issues where players can abuse the mechanics.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 27 '20 at 4:46
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No, you can not take a short rest during a long rest.

The resting rules state:

Adventurers can take short rests in the midst of an adventuring day and a long rest to end the day.

The D&D 5e rules don't make a clear distinction between "flavor text" and "rules text". As such, this is an official restriction on when short rests and long rests can be taken; they do serve two different mechanical and narrative purposes.

Furthermore, the specific mechanics of short and long rests describe them in different ways, and allow them to be interrupted by strenuous activities of different durations (any strenuous activity interrupts a short rest, while only an hour or more of strenuous activity interrupts a long rest). As such, it's clear that they're not intended to overlap, and the rules support this intent.

Jeremy Crawford confirms that this is the intended interpretation of the rules in an unofficial tweet from July 2016:

Twitter user A: can a PC benefit from short rests during a long rest? A PC (fighter) is abusing second wind to save hit [dice].

Crawford: The intent is that you can't take a short rest and a long rest at the same time.

That said, DMs can house-rule otherwise, and frequently will let interrupted long rests serve as short rests if it has been more than an hour since the rest began.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, this sounds like more like a way for a GM to deal with a specific situation (fighter abusing second wind) rather than a general ruling. Certainly the rule does not make any intuitive or logical sense. \$\endgroup\$ – barbecue May 4 '18 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ It works much better to have RAW be that you don't get the short rest and let the DM say "yeah, why not, you can take a short rest before the goblins crash into your campsite", rather than to require the DM to house rule that someone is abusing a feature. I'd much rather rule that my players benefit from something they're not otherwise entitled to than have to shut down someone's fun because I don't like RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – Mikkel May 4 '18 at 22:41
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By RAW, you can.

The rules for a Long Rest state (PHB p. 186) that a Long Rest is interrupted by a "period of strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity".

A Short Rest does not constitute "strenuous activity". By definition, during a Short Rest a character "does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds". (basic rules, p. 70)

Therefore, taking a Short Rest does not interrupt a Long Rest. You can have Short Rests within a Long Rest.

Note that Crawford & Mearls have stated that by RAI it isn't allowed.


@NautArch asked for more support, so in this part I will try to be rigorous.

  • Claim 1: The only RAW interruptions to a Long Rest are (A) "a period of strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity" and (B) taking part for more than two hours in "light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch".

    Proof of Claim 1: PHB page 186 section Long Rest, first paragraph is the only rule on the interruption of Long Rest.

  • Claim 2: A Short Rest by definition does not violate condition (A).

    Proof of Claim 2: PHB page 186 section Short Rest, first paragraph explicitly forbids "strenuous activity" during a Short Rest.

  • Claim 3: It is possible to take a Short Rest without violating condition (B).

    Proof of Claim 3 : It is possible to sleep during a Short Rest, and sleep does not violate condition (B).

  • Claim 4: Claim 1 & Claim 2 together imply that it is possible to take at least two Short Rests within a Long Rest, as long as the six remaining hours are spent sleeping.

    Proof of Claim 4: Two Short Rests are two hours long, which cannot violate condition (B), and by Claim 2, condition (A) is not violated either. Therefore the Long Rest isn't interrupted.

  • Claim 5: Claim 1, 2 & 3 together imply that it is possible to take up to 8 Short Rests within a Long Rest.

    Proof of Claim 5 By sleeping for 8 hours it is possible to take 8 Short Rests that neither violate condition (A) or (B).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I think it can use more support, especially compared against the assessments in the Carcer's answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 8 '19 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't comment on Carcer's answer as I do not yet have the reputation to do so. However, Carcer's answer is factually incorrect - according to him, the PHB says that a Short Rest interrupts a Long Rest. However, only "strenuous activity" interrupts a Long Rest, and a Short Rest is not strenuous. Therefore Carcer's answer is wrong. The rest of Carcer's answer describes his own personal ruling as a DM, and gives little insight into RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – Merudo Apr 8 '19 at 14:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I have extended by answer. If you disagree with my conclusion, please state which claim(s) you think are untrue. \$\endgroup\$ – Merudo Apr 8 '19 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW I think this is also a valid interpretation of the rules given for resting if you allow "periods of downtime" to overlap, but that may interact dubiously with some of the other downtime rules (I think Xanathar's has crafting rules covering how much progress you can make in a short rest or a long rest, for instance, where allowing overlap would make for faster progress than intended). \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Apr 8 '19 at 20:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer Those are downtime activities. You do them during downtime, not while resting. They are measured in workweeks (or days or months), not short/long rests. You can't do them while adventuring, let alone during rests. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Jul 27 '20 at 3:59

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