So I am currently running a game with 3 PCs, 2 of which are Elves and 1 a Human. I am just trying to calculate the most efficient way to run watch shifts during long rests since both of the elves only need 4 hour meditation to be considered fully rested.

In the PHB pg 168 in the section about long rests it states that (emphasis mine):

A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours.

Now my question is, once a character is considered fully rested and no longer needs the "long rest" are they able to keep effective watch for longer than a period of 2 hours? So say that the elves both finish their 4 hours, can they now keep a vigilant watch for the other 4 hours the human PC needs to rest?



If your character is not resting, they can do whatever they wish with their time. But if they did not rest themselves, they would not get the benefit of a Long Rest. However with Elves, they only need the 4 hours for trance, and since you have 2, it would effectively get you through the night.

Trance (PHB, 23) is defined as:

Elves don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, 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.

Given that the full benefit of long rest is granted after 4 hours, they would be able to stand watch the remaining time of the long rest for the other PC's.


You will need to stagger how it's done, because during the 4 hour trance, they can't be standing watch. So having one Elf stand watch for 4 hours while the other rests, then switch, while the human gets to rest for the full 8 would be a successful 8 hours with someone on watch at all times. The Human could also use 2 of the 8 to stand watch.

The 2 hour limitation is only there for characters within the Long Rest framework, not a stagnant game rule.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So essentially the '2 hour watch' only pertains to characters that require sleep? So since Elves just enter a Trance state, they can keep watch for as long as they'd like? \$\endgroup\$
    – Semilucid
    Dec 4 '19 at 15:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The 2 hour watch is within the Long Rest framework. But the 4 hours of trance is to replace the need for sleep. They will still need to be in the trance for the 4 full hours to get Long Rest benefits. Long Rest requires 6 hours of sleep and 2 can be for activity for a total of 8. Replace the 6 hours of sleep with 4 hours of trance, and the rest of the time is yours to do with as you please. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4 '19 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, will remove the last bit. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4 '19 at 16:32

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