So here’s the thing. The elven sleep cycle is largely dependent on geography and date. If a typical elf happens to live in the Forgotten Realms circa 2003, he’s going to need four hours of restful meditation / trance. If it’s 2012 and that same elf makes his home among the shady woods of Golarion, he’s going to need a full eight hours of shuteye. If it’s 1992 and our elf is living in England, he can only sleep if the Malfoys let him stop cleaning the manor for five frickin’ seconds. In the vast majority of cases, however, elven wizards need a full eight hours of (let’s agree to call it “rest”) to recover their daily allotment of spells. Being selfish people, however, the rest of the party stopped reading the elf racial description at “elves don’t need to sleep.”

Whether you’ve got an elf on hand or not, setting a watch order is a tremendous nuisance for any adventuring party. You’ve got to figure out which classes need uninterrupted sleep to regain their abilities, which can see in the dark, and which can be trusted to oversee the rogue while the rest of the party is unconscious. It always turns into a big obnoxious argument when the party camps down for the night, and all so that the GM can just wait until the two characters with the crappiest “noticing stuff” skills are the ones who have to deal with the night predators anyway.

So heed my advice, young adventurers. Have this argument exactly once and then write down your watch order. It will save a lot of trouble in the future.