Ever wondered how reality checks work? We have a whole page on how to learn reality checks, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to assume you know what they are.
They’re ways of testing whether you’re awake or asleep so that you can induce a Lucid Dream.
A common reality check is to try and push your finger through the palm of your other hand. In real life it obviously won’t go through but in the dream it will. It will feel weird, almost like you have no feeling in your fingers and hand but you rather just smoothly push the finger through the palm. When it goes through you know you’re dreaming.
But how do reality checks work?
How does the reality check enable you to wake up in your dream and control it? Well, let’s go through it in detail. So the reality check is something which you do throughout the day when you’re awake, and every time you do it you ask yourself whether you’re dreaming or not.
You link an action with a thought
Because you ask yourself whether you’re dreaming every time you do the reality check, you anchor that question and that thought to the action – The reality check, in this case, pushing the finger through your hand.
You create a link between the two in your brain, so that whenever you do the reality check, you raise your awareness.
That’s the important thing to note about this, the Reality check is linked to raising your awareness, and asking yourself if you’re dreaming, because you always try to do them at the same time.
So the next stage is that after you’ve been doing that for a few days or weeks etc, you’ll eventually by default do it in your dream at a random time, you’ll go through the motion of doing the reality check in your dream and with that check, because there is a link, you’ll raise your awareness, and essentially wake your mind up.
It becomes a habit and a strong link
It’s basically like changing the muscle memory of your brain so that when you do the check in your dream, your mind wakes up because that’s what you’ve trained it to do.
You must always make sure that when you do the reality check, you make the question definite. You really need to ask yourself if you’re dreaming and focus on linking it to the act of Checking your reality by pushing the finger through the palm or whatever your chosen method is.
It’s sort of like the totems they use in Inception, each totem is slightly different, because each reality check works differently for different people, so find what works for you. So that’s the basics of how they work, and why they let you ‘wake up’ in your dreams.
How they start appearing in your dreams
The reality checks start appearing in your dreams because you do them all the time when you’re awake. That’s the simple answer, but the thing to note is that they only happen when you’re doing them a lot in waking life. You need to keep doing them in order for them to keep showing up in your dreams.
If you stop doing regular reality checks in the day time, your lucid dream number will go right down. It needs to become a habit, because that’s how they essentially work in the dream. It’s something you do so much in your waking life that your brain has no choice but to carry it over to your dream life.
The brain simulates waking life in your dream, so by doing reality checks you’re sort of hacking your brain and making it wake up when it is usually resting and unaware.
A problem with Reality Checks
Sometimes when doing a reality check in a dream, it won’t make you Lucid. This is because sometimes when you dream and do your reality check, it will just be a memory of a previous dream where you’ve done a reality check.
It’s hard to understand but the longer you’ve been Lucid Dreaming, the more likely it is to happen, you’ll do the normal reality check and you’ll find that it doesn’t make you lucid. When you wake up the next morning you’ll think about it and wonder why you didn’t become Lucid, but it’s just one of the things that happens in dreaming once in a while.
Reality checks are still pretty good for inducing dreams, because they normally allow you to suddenly wake up and take instant control instead of just waiting around in a normal dream.
Another problem with them could be that sometimes they’re difficult to do in public. Some of them are embarrassing or weird to do in public. Pinching your nose in front of everyone and trying to breath while looking around you in a ‘questionable’ way might be considered weird. We’ve got you covered. Try learning about mental reality checks which don’t require you to physically do something.
I go over exactly how to do reality checks in my lucid dreaming guide for beginners. I explain the different types and how to make sure they show up in your dream.