Short Rest 5e Guide

DnD Short Rest 5e Guide: How Does it Actually Work?

A lot can happen when it comes to adventuring in the world of Faerun. Whether it’s the dangers of adventuring, a quest against evil, or simply a long day of walking around a village, your adventurers will be tired. When that happens, they will need a rest, and there are two actions that they can take for that. A Long Rest and a Short Rest.

A short rest is the easier rest to take, but what does a short rest entail? What does it do for your party? And what if you can’t get a short rest? Here’s our Short Rest 5e Guide to this feature in DnD, and you will get your questions answered.

What Is A Short Rest?

A short rest is defined in the Player’s Handbook as A Short Rest is a period of downtime, at least 1 hour long, during which a character does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds. A character can spend one or more Hit Dice at the end of a Short Rest, up to the character’s maximum number of Hit Dice, which is equal to the character’s level.

So it’s like taking an hour-long breather, where characters can sit in relative safety and recover from the perils of adventuring. Short rests are fairly common at most games, even though you can only take one a day. But getting to spend an extra hit die to recover from wounds, as well as eat and take a break, can be a welcome part of gameplay.

Additionally, some of the abilities from the party can be recovered after a short rest. Those abilities, such as the Fighters ‘Second Wind’ ability, will be told whenever you read the ability. Certain magical items regain their abilities after a second rest as well.

Finally, some classes regain spell slots after short rests or regain other resources. Plus, a bard can learn a spell called Song Of Rest that allows the other party members to spend more hit die. As you can see, a short rest is a very useful hour!

How Long Is A Short Rest?

While the official sources have a short rest at an hour, some DMs and third party sources shorten that time frame considerably. Some have the short rest take less than 10 minutes, others have them take 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes. Some even have a range where a short rest can be anywhere from 10 minutes to up to an hour long.

Some even say that short rests are a full day of downtime while a long rest is an entire week. Admittedly this depends on the campaign you are running, the types of players that you have, and how you want rests to work. If you want to change it, you can, but most people have a long rest at 8 hours and a short rest at 1.

When And Where Can The Party Take A Short Rest?

Dragon Short Rest

The Party has no limits on when in the day they can take a short rest, but it’s often done whenever the party needs it. If the party is wounded enough where further combat is a concern but doesn’t want to spend spell slots or potions, sometimes taking a rest can be beneficial to spend some hit die.

However, there are some limits for where the party can take a short rest they need to be in an area where it is safe and free from monsters and other threats. Some good places can be a player home or home base, a tavern or inn, a secluded outdoor area, or any other place where the party can relax comfortably.

If the party is in a dangerous area, such as a monster’s lair, a dungeon, in the middle of a battle, or in an area where they haven’t properly scouted around, they can still take a short rest but it could be interrupted.

What If A Short Rest Is Interrupted?

Sometimes an hour is too much to ask for when the world needs saving, and the short rest can be interrupted due to a crisis, an ambush by monsters, or a quest that needs to be done urgently. When that happens and an hour has not passed, the short rest is interrupted. Since the party only gets to spend hit die and heal themselves at the end of the short rest, they do not get to spend any hit die. If they end up getting ambushed, then they might be at a severe disadvantage for the combat!

How Many Short Rests Can I Have A Day?

As a DM, you have the ability to make adventuring days as hectic or as calm as you like. For example, some DMs have two or three combat encounters, have their players take a short rest, do more encounters, and then have a long rest. Other DMs will have encounters every few ‘real time’ days or sessions, so rests don’t matter as much. It depends on how you play as a DM and also how your party plays.

Some love combat and adventure, while others like to travel and roleplaying. Still, while you can only have one 8 hours long rest per day, you can have as many short rests as you like.

How Can Rests Be Made Interesting?


When a player says ‘We’re taking a short rest’, most DM’s will simply allow them to replenish any hp loss or abilities, and then move on with the game. A short rest is just an afterthought, and that’s fine. On the flip side, some players will roleplay out the short rest, talking, reading, eating, and figuring out what they will do next.

But even then, there are other ways to bulk up the rest mechanics in the game. First, there are ways to mess with a short rest. For example, you can have your characters be unable to rest in a dungeon or hostile environment because of all the danger. They might need to take precautions from danger, and you can take short rests in dangerous environments realistic.

For example, let’s say the party has slaughtered several goblins in a large cave, but there are more goblins inside of a tomb deeper in the dungeon. Resting in this area would be futile because realistically, the sounds of the fight would attract more goblins and they’d probably notice that 6 of their buddies are missing.

But if your party makes an effort to keep the fighting silent (using stealth attacks, no loud spells, emphasizing that they are trying to be silent), roll some perception checks for the other goblins in the other rooms. Maybe they won’t hear the combat!

Your party might also decide to hide the bodies, barricade the door to the tomb, and set alarms to deter more goblin attacks. If they go the extra mile to mitigate the danger around the area they are in, you can allow them to take an hour if they need it.

Time Doesn’t Stop

If you have players who tend to take a short rest whenever they lose one hit point, then punish them for it. Having time-sensitive villains and quests in D&D 5e is another article all on its own, but right now it can help you out whenever you want to break your player’s reliance on short rests. Maybe they are trying to stop the bad guy’s ritual or rescue a hostage, and if they take too long by using the rest feature, then time keeps passing and the ritual succeeds and the hostage dies.

It’s a great way to keep your hand on the tiller and move the party where you want them to go with time sensitivity.

What Can You Do During A Short Rest?

Short Rest 5e

Think of a short rest like a meal break. You can spend an hour napping, eating, reading, drinking, and tending to wounds. Most DMs will allow you to do other activities as well, and most of the time you can think of activities you do during breaks. Some bards might play an instrument quietly, clerics might pray or meditate, and those specialized in tools might make smaller projects.

For example, if your character has a woodcarver’s or painter’s kit, they might whittle some wood or mindlessly paint on an easel. Basically, as long as you can do the action without getting too strenuous, and won’t get too tired while doing it, most DMs will allow it during short rests.

It might be a cool idea to have stories told around the campfire by your characters, allowing them to rest in character and enhancing the roleplaying for everyone.

Short Rest FAQs

Question: Should We Keep Watch During A Short Rest?

Answer: While keeping what during a long rest makes sense, especially if you are in a hostile environment, most of the time you don’t need to keep watch during a short rest. As long as at least one character is alert during that time, or alarms or other preventive measures have been set up, the party can focus on other things.

Keep in mind that random encounters and ambushes can still happen during or immediately after a long rest, effectively negating the benefits whenever you enter combat. If you are in a hostile area, bandits can patrol around, monsters can catch your scent, and other dangers can investigate.

Question: What About Items That Keep Short Rests Safe?

Answer: Of course, if your party wants to be safe during a short rest, then some items are able to help out with that. Along with homebrewed items, there are two abilities that can help make short rests trivial. The first is the 3rd level spell Leomund’s Tiny Hut, which states:

A 10-foot-radius immobile dome of force springs into existence around and above you and remains stationary for the duration. The spell ends if you leave its area. Nine creatures of Medium size or smaller can fit inside the dome with you. The spell fails if its area includes a larger creature or more than nine creatures. Creatures and objects within the dome when you cast this spell can move through it freely. All other creatures and objects are barred from passing through it. Spells and other magical effects can’t extend through the dome or be cast through it. The atmosphere inside the space is comfortable and dry, regardless of the weather outside.

Until the spell ends, you can command the interior to become dimly lit or dark. The dome is opaque from the outside, of any color you choose, but it is transparent from the inside.
Since nothing can get in or out without the permission of the caster, it’s the perfect place to take a short rest or even a long rest because it lasts for 8 hours. The spell ‘Rope Trick’ does the same thing, as with this spell:

You touch a length of rope that is up to 60 feet long. One end of the rope then rises into the air until the whole rope hangs perpendicular to the ground. At the upper end of the rope, an invisible entrance opens to an extradimensional space that lasts until the spell ends. The extradimensional space can be reached by climbing to the top of the rope.

The extradimensional space lasts for one hour, plenty of time for a short rest if you don’t mind some climbing!

Question: Can An Interrupted Long Rest Become A Short Rest?

Answer: If your characters are settling down for a long rest, but are interrupted four hours in, it can be a question of it they get the benefits of a short rest. Sadly, according to the rules, a short rest and a long rest are two different things. Even if a long rest is interrupted, the party doesn’t gain the benefits of a full short rest. Of course, there’s nothing stopping a DM from changing the rules or throwing them out entirely, but that is how the rest mechanic works as written in the game.

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