In my most recent session, the entire party except one character was downed (reduced to 0 HP), but they were all stabilised by the cleric (the only member that was left standing). One of the downed characters is an elf.

Because of the elf's Trance trait, normally when they sleep/meditate, it only takes 4 hours to finish a long rest. However, in this instance, they are not meditating, but just stable with 0 hp.

Would it take the elf 4 hours or 8 hours to finish a long rest and regain all their HP?


2 Answers 2


A stabilized elf can finish a long rest in 1d4+4 hours.

The rules for “Stabilizing a Creature” state (emphasis mine):

A stable creature doesn't make death saving throws, even though it has 0 hit points, but it does remain unconscious. The creature stops being stable, and must start making death saving throws again, if it takes any damage. A stable creature that isn't healed regains 1 hit point after 1d4 hours.

Only after the elf regains 1 hit point can the elf begin their 4-hour long rest:

a character must have at least 1 hit point at the start of the [long] rest to gain its benefits.

So an elf with 0 hit points can complete a long rest in 1d4+4 hours from the moment they are stabilized: 1d4 hours to regain 1 hit point1, and 4 hours to complete the long rest.

1 A non-negligible level of support has been given to the ruling that a creature can take a short rest while unconscious and spend hit dice to regain hit points after only one hour.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ If you are of the school of thought that allows unconscious characters to benefit from short rests, the elf can cut the time down to 5 hours if they have any hit dice. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 12:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BBeast Yeah, I don't buy that answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov it is perfectly RAW though. That being said, this is absolutely a place to houserule \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 12:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobbamok No, I don't think it is consistent with RAW. I think RAW here is pretty ambiguous. And getting beat within an inch of your life and laying on the ground unconscious is definitely not resting. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 12:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then contribute your own answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 3:49

8 Hours.

The elf trance is often misunderstood as being that the long rest is only 4 hours whereas everyone else is 8 hours. The only thing the elf trance does is you need to sleep "trance" for 4 hours, but still need the remaining 4 hours to gain the benefit of a long rest such as other light activity.

The benefit is such that the elves can keep watch for longer (up to 4 hours). Whereas most other humanoids need 6 hours of sleep and 2 hours of light activity (or 8 hours of sleep if you like sleep ofc).

TLDR: 8 Hours - 4 hour trance + 4 hour light activity/downtime. Just for reference that elves do in fact need 8 hours for a long rest: https://www.sageadvice.eu/elf-trance-does-it-affect-long-rest-for-elves/


Thanks to Sarge in the comments, it seems Eladrin, Shadar-Kai and Sea Elves gain the benefit of a long rest after 4 hours, either by an error in MPMM or a change in the desired D&D design. I found no errata that changes the phrasing of the Trance for Eladrin & co, nor errata that changes the phrasing of the original PHB.


Long rest: A character can’t benefit from more than one Long Rest in a 24-hour period, and a character must have at least 1 hit point at the start of the rest to gain its benefits.
The elf will be at 0 hit points until healed or unconcious for 1d4 hours, then 8 hour long rest if an elf from PHB or 4 hour long rest if Eladrin, Sea elf or Shadar-Kai.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Despite of sage advice, in MPMM there are at least three playable races with Trance ability, that are 'considered to be an elf for any prequisite or effect that requires to be an elf' - Eladrin, Shadar-Kai and Sea Elves. All three have, in description of their Trance, 'you can finish Long Rest in 4 hours'. So, it's likely that mentioned piece from sageadvice is not working any longer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sarge
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was not aware of the subraces being different (and checked just to make sure that it is phrased that way in MPMM). I would imagine one is an error, but going by what is published (and I could not find an errata). By RAW I would argue the elves from the PHB are as described above, but the subraces you described gain a long rest after 4 hours of trance as it is explicitly stated. Based on specific rule beats general rule, the Eladrin & friends with this phrasing gains that benefit while PHB elves do not. Naturally any DM is free to include, exclude or change the traits to be equal. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nexhai
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nexhai The sageadvice.eu website is not an official source, it is simply a collection of tweets from designers. The true [Sage Advice Compendium ](media.wizards.com/2020/dnd/downloads/SA-Compendium.pdf) is available on the wizards.com website. On page 2, under the Racial Traits heading, it states "Does the Trance trait allow an elf to finish a long rest in 4 hours? If an elf meditates during a long rest (as described in the Trance trait), the elf finishes the rest after only 4 hours. A meditating elf otherwise follows all the rules for a long rest; only the duration is changed." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 15:27

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