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Reality Checks for Lucid Dreaming

Updated on June 15, 2010

What is a Reality Check?

Reality checks are used in almost every lucid dreaming technique. As such, they are the first skill most lucid dreamers learn and the tool they rely on most throughout their dreaming career.

A reality check is a simple thought-process or action that is consistently practiced (during waking life) to evaluate whether you are dreaming or not. This may sound silly, but the more you practice, the more likely you will be to do it in your dreams. Habitual actions and thoughts recur more frequently in the dream world, just like in normal life, which is why training yourself to practice your reality checks often will translate into more lucid dreams.

Choosing a Reality Check

There is an almost unlimited variety of reality checks you can do, but it is important to select one you can do often. Some of the most used checks include:

  • Asking yourself, “Am I dreaming?”
  • Observing your surroundings and looking for oddities (for instance, do you live in a tree house or are you being attacked by goblins?)
  • Hop in the air – do you fly or float?
  • Plug your nose or put your head under water – can you still breathe?
  • Look at a clock or a complex pattern, look away, and then look back again – have the time/pattern changed?
  • Watch your hands or feet – do you have the correct number of fingers or toes?

These are all examples reality checks and can help you determine whether you are in a dream or the waking world.

Other Useful Reality Checks

Most Popular Reality Checks

What is your favorite reality check?

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Selecting a Trigger

The goal when choosing a reality check is to use it constantly in order to form a habit. In order to do this, it is important to use "triggers" to help you remember to perform your reality check throughout the day. Popular triggers include:

  • looking at a clock
  • walking through a door
  • tying your shoe laces
  • eating food
  • brushing your teeth

The key is to find something you do on a regular basis and then, every time you do it during waking life, practice your chosen reality check.

If you perform a reality check EVERY time you walk through doorway in waking life, chances are you will do it in your dreams after a week or two and, as a result, begin having lucid dreams on a regular basis.

Helpful Lucid Dreaming Gear

Mindfold Sleeping Mask
Mindfold Sleeping Mask

Monitors your REM cycle and provides visual or auditory reality checks when you begin to dream.


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    • GreenTieCommando profile image

      GreenTieCommando 7 years ago from USA

      Good information!

      A lot of people find the "look at your hands" reality check to trick them often or never show up automatically. Digital clocks and reading work far more often!