‘Reality checks’ are a powerful way to have more lucid dreams. A reality check is an ACTION that you perform during the day that (hopefully) will enter your dreams, and cause you to become lucid later.
I won’t beat around the bush, they work very well.
In this article, we’ll learn:
- What reality checks are
- How reality checks work
- How to DO reality checks to lucid dream
- Why people struggle with reality checks
- How to do them more effectively
- The BEST times to do reality checks
- Using totems and objects to do advanced reality checks
The RESULT of a reality check will either prove you’re awake, in which cause you go about your day or prove that you’re dreaming which causes you to become ‘lucid’.
Becoming Lucid means as I’m sure you know – To be aware of the fact you’re dreaming.
It means you can choose what to do and where to go in the world of your dreams. One of the best ways to do this and to become lucid is to do these ‘reality checks’ throughout the day and even in some of your dreams. You may be wondering, what’s a reality check and how do I do it?
What are reality checks?
In order to lucid dream, you’ll need to be able to tell the difference between REALITY and A DREAM. Reality checks are a powerful way of doing this, and you’ll be able to prove to yourself you’re awake, (or dreaming).
At least, that’s how they’re supposed to work.
Reality checks are something you do in real life throughout the day, which you hope will show up in your dream.
It’s a MOMENT during the day where you ask yourself ‘Am I dreaming?’ while at the same time TESTING your reality and doing a ‘check’ or physical action which has DIFFERENT results in waking life compared to the dream.
It’s something you can do which has one outcome in real life, and a different outcome in the dream, meaning you can use the result to know whether you’re dreaming or not. Think of them like your ‘trigger’ that will cause you to become lucid.
But there’s more to the story than that.
How do reality checks cause you to become lucid?
By doing reality checks enough times during the day, eventually, you’ll do one in a dream. But that’s much easier said than done. What really happens is that we dream about all SORTS of things. Random dream situations and experiences, every night.
So how can we expect reality checks to work?
Well, they’re about training your subconscious mind to do one thing (mainly):
To question your reality every time you experience something STRANGE.
But most people don’t realise that, and that’s why they’re not able to lucid dream using reality checks. That’s the MAIN reason. So what can you do?
Here are the times you’re supposed to do reality checks, during the day:
- Randomly at set intervals, and random intervals
- Whenever you do, hear, see or smell something unusual
- At certain points when you’re just looking around the room
- As a trigger when you see or interact with your ‘dream signs’
These are the best times. I wrote a longer post actually, about the best times to do reality checks, but that’s the gist of it. And you have to really remember to do them as well!
By doing a reality check every time you hear or see something strange, you’re MUCH more likely to have that reality check show up in your dreams, and make you lucid. Don’t just do them during your boring office hours at work!
But you want to know HOW to do a reality check, right?
Top 20 reality checks for lucid dreaming (And how to do reality checks)
There are of course MANY reality checks you could do for lucid dreaming. Each one works slightly differently. It’s up to you to test what’s the most effective one for you and your routine.
I want to make it very clear here, that you NEED to test what works for you. Some people will find that the finger palm push doesn’t work for them, even though for me it works every time.
Testing is everything.
Here are the BEST reality checks for lucid dreaming in 2020 (SCROLL DOWN to learn how to do each one, by the way!):
- Pushing your finger through your palm
- Checking your watch
- Reading some text
- Looking down at your hands
- Mental reality checks
- Using objects or totems
- My lucid dreaming app (free)
- Ask yourself in your own head
- Ask someone ELSE if you’re dreaming
- Check your pulse
- Look at yourself in the mirror
- Take your glasses off (or put them on)
- Look at the color of objects
- Look at a DIGITAL clock
- Flip a coin and make it float
- Jump and expect to float
- Play some music and listen to the structure
- Flip a light switch on and off
- Look at your phone
- Try and lift something really heavy with no effort
- Build up your NATURAL awareness (The best reality check ever)
Now we’ll break each one down, and explain HOW to do the reality check.
We’ll start with my best one, and what I consider to be the MOST effective reality check:
1: The finger palm push
To do a reality check for lucid dreaming, Take your hand, and hold it in front of you. Now with the finger of your OTHER hand, try and push it through your palm. As you’re doing this, ask yourself ‘Am I dreaming?’. See the image below:
In real life, you will always get the same response and the same feeling, the resistance, the tension and the feeling of your finger pressing your palm will be constant.
In the dream however, the finger will go through your palm, and you likely won’t feel it either. It will certainly feel strange, and you’ll realise that something’s not right, therefore allowing you to become Lucid.
When this happens, you’ll probably freak out.
That’s because this is in MY opinion and experience, the most effective reality check. It’s a VERY clear test that has no false positive. If you push your finger through your palm, you KNOW you’re dreaming. It’s undeniable.
Read my article about making the dream last longer.
2: Checking your watch
Look at the time somewhere in the environment you’re in, so glance at a computer clock or a clock on the wall. The time will be different every time you look at it in the dream, whereas in real life it will hardly move. As you’re doing this, ask yourself ‘Am I dreaming?’.
Notice that this check also involves asking if you’re dreaming.
Spoiler alert, they all do.
And that’s a KEY part of reality checks. You need to ask yourself whether or not you’re dreaming, AS you’re doing the check. That’s what’s going to make you lucid later on.
Make sure you clearly see the time, and then when you turn to look again, check that it’s the same. If it’s not, you’re dreaming. This is a great reality check to try, but it has it’s limitations:
- If you’re not near a clock
- If you don’t dream about a clock
- If you don’t like watches
- If you don’t wear a watch
- If you don’t remember to look at your watch in your dream
- If you don’t DREAM about having a watch
3: Reading some text
Writing and words in a dream are often very hard to make out. You will be able to tell instantly by looking at writing or a paper/book that you’re dreaming. In real life obviously the writing is clear, it doesn’t move and you can understand it, whereas in a dream, it will appear to shift around the page, and it will be blurry.
So for this check, just find some text in your room or wherever you are, read it and then look away. When you look BACK at the text, see if it’s changed.
If it’s changed, you’re dreaming.
Important to remember to ask yourself if you’re dreaming WHILE you’re reading the text, and while you’re looking away. It’s very easy to forget this step, but it’s so important! That’s why I’ll keep mentioning it.
4: Look down at your hands
Your hands will always look strange in the dream, and it’s hard to explain why, but by looking at your hands, you can generally tell if you’re dreaming or not. Ask yourself ‘Am I dreaming’ whilst looking at your hands, and you’ll know the answer.
When it eventually happens in a dream, you’ll understand what is meant by this, but your hands will give it away, they won’t be any different, but the feeling and thoughts that go through your mind when you look at your hands and ask if you’re dreaming will let you know the answer.
This is a very common reality test.
Because many of us lucid dream by accident using this technique. You’ll look down at your hands, and SOMETHING will seem strange, not right or odd. That causes you to suddenly think ‘I’M DREAMING!’ And you become lucid.
But don’t let that fool you. Although this is common, that doesn’t mean it’s reliable. It’s not something you can practice often and know it’s going to be reliable. You MIGHT dream about your hands, you might not.
And if you do, there’s no guarantee that you’ll become lucid, because there’s NO TEST involved. You’re just looking at your hands.
What if you don’t notice they’re strange? What if you think they’re normal?
Then you don’t become lucid, and the reality check doesn’t work. That’s why the ‘finger palm push’ is my personal fave to this day, because it’s undeniable, and works every single time.
5: Mental reality checks
It may be sometimes difficult to do a PHYSICAL reality check, specially if you’re around friends or work mates. If you’re worried about this, you can do some types of reality check in your head. These are known as mental reality checks, and might be a much easier way of testing if you’re awake without making people think you’re strange!
Read the article I linked to if you want to learn more about that, but here’s the gist of it:
- Ask yourself simple questions in your head WHILE pondering whether you’re dreaming or not
- Do simple maths problems like 2+9 in your head while asking yourself if you’re dreaming
- Try and analyse the room or place you’re in, and think about HOW you got there
- Ask yourself where you just came from
- Try and think about where you were ten minutes ago
Often, just doing these things and asking yourself those questions is enough to make you lucid, instantly.
6: My lucid dreaming app (free)
I mentioned this a couple of times, but I created a free lucid dreaming app to remind you to do reality checks. You can download it for free, and customise the settings.
Essentially, it just reminds you to DO reality checks, and it can remind you:
- Randomly (you can set the frequency)
- Every hour
- Every two hours
- And customised settings too
You can change the TEXT it reminds you with, duration and everything in between. It even has dream like sounds as well. Check it out if you want a little boost and reminder to do reality checks.
Then combine that with actually doing the best or most effective reality check from this article, (the one you like the sound of the most).
7: Ask yourself in your own head
You can ask yourself whether you’re dreaming without doing much else. It won’t be AS effective, but it certainly can work sometimes. I wouldn’t suggest doing this EVERY time, because there are better reality checks for lucid dreaming.
But it’s one to test out and see.
Make sure you REALLY doubt your reality, and pretend that you don’t know whether you’re dreaming or not. The key to all reality checks is to just pretend that you don’t know whether you’re dreaming or not.
So many people go into doing a reality check without really paying attention. They assume they already KNOW they’re awake, so they fail the reality check before they’ve really even started.
8: Ask someone ELSE if you’re dreaming
Another common technique is to ask other people around you if you’re dreaming. This doesn’t really help you work it out, but it can train your mind to be more critical. When you start having MEMORIES of people asking you if you’re dreaming, they’re more likely to enter your dream.
I’ve experimented with this technique a few times, and I find that it does work pretty well.
You could even wear a shirt that says ‘ask me if I’m lucid’ and see how many people ask you if you’re dreaming or not! It can be used to trigger OTHER people to do your reality checks for you. The way it works is that we often dream about other people and our memories.
So if we have a memory of someone else asking us if we’re dreaming, we’re likely to dream about that. And that’s how the reality check can enter your dream and make you lucid, where others might not have.
9: Check your pulse
If you check your pulse once, and then check it again and it’s VERY different, you could be dreaming. Another way of doing this reality check is that if you can’t feel ANY pulse, you might be dreaming.
Our pulse is something that our dreaming minds often have a problem re-creating. We rarely check our pulse in waking life, so we don’t train our brains to dream about it. It’s a rare thing.
We might check our pulse a few times per year, right?
But if you do it more on purpose now, as a reality check, it will show up in your dreams. And then hopefully, you’ll become lucid more often! To check your pulse, press your fingers against the side of your neck. You might need to fiddle around for a few seconds to find where the blood is strongest.
There will be a point on the side of your neck, slightly underneath your jaw where you’ll feel a pulsing beat of blood flow in your neck. That’s your pulse (if you didn’t already know). It should beat consistently like a pump.
- Don’t worry if you can’t find it, some people find it harder to find the pulse than others
- This one might get you some strange looks in public
- Checking your pulse is often done at the gym
10: Look at yourself in the mirror
In a dream, mirrors work slightly differently. I’ve made videos about this a few times, because they’re so interesting to me! If you check a mirror in your dream, you’ll look very different.
So use a mirror as your reality check. Throughout the day, look in mirrors and ask yourself if you’re dreaming. This becomes an effective reality check, but it does have some drawbacks:
- You might not dream about mirrors very often
- You might not be around a mirror very often in real life
- You might not remember to do the reality check when you see a mirror
But I need to say a few things:
Reality checks aren’t a ‘one and done’ type of thing. You should build up a WIDE range of situations that TRIGGER you to do reality checks. For example:
- Every time I see a mirror, I do a reality check
- Every time I see something strange I do a reality check
- Every time I feel scared or excited, I ask myself if I’m dreaming (mental check)
And so you build up a habit of awareness and asking yourself if you’re dreaming, every day. This happens over and over again, and you start to have lots more random lucid dreams, most weeks.
11: Take your glasses off (or put them on)
If you wear glasses, and taking them off makes your vision blurry, try taking them off a few times per day. As you take them off, expect to be able to see normally.
Then when you take them off and your vision is blurred, THEN you can confirm that you’re awake.
It’s a pretty powerful reality check but only really applies if you’re someone who WEARS glasses in waking life.
12: Look at the color of objects
The color of objects can change in dreams. Look at an object in the room, then look away, and then look back at the object. If the objects color has changed then you might be dreaming. In fact, you ARE dreaming.
13: Look at a DIGITAL clock
Digital clocks often change their time often during a dream.
Just look at dreaming films like Anamnesis. But you can use that to your advantage, and use it as a reality check. Just look at a digital clock if you have one, and then ask yourself if you’re dreaming.
You might not have a digital clock, and that’s fine, you can just skip this one.
Many of these reality checks, depend on you having a certain object, and that’s not ideal. That’s why I think the best reality check for lucid dreams is just the one you can ALWAYS do, no matter what objects you have on you, or where you are.
14: Flip a coin and make it float
If you have a coin on you, just flip it up in the air, and imagine that it’s going to float.
What we expect to happen in lucid dreams often WILL happen, so use that to your advantage, and flip the coin expecting it to float in the air.
When you see it in the air spinning around, tell yourself that it’s going to KEEP spinning in mid air. when it doesn’t, THEN you can confirm that you’re awake, not before.
And that’s the key to most of these reality checks. You need to really doubt whether you’re awake. In fact, ASSUME that you’re dreaming as you do the reality check, so that you’ll train your brain to become lucid more often.
15: Jump and expect to float
If you jump up in the air in a dream and EXPECT to float, you’ll be flying. I have a tutorial on ACTUALLY flying in a lucid dream if you want to go further down that road, but the basics of it come down to this:
If you EXPECT to float or fly, you will.
So if you use that in waking life, it becomes a reality check almost. Just jump up in the air and expect that you’ll float up in the air. If you fall back to earth, you can confirm that you’re awake. But this one might get you funny looks if you do it too often in public.
16: Play some music and listen to the structure
This one is kinda random but if you listen to some music in a lucid dream, it might sound strange. But this is quite a WEAK reality check, compared to the other ones.
17: Flip a light switch on and off
In a dream, light switches don’t work very well. In fact for some people, light switches don’t work at all in dreams. So use that as a reality check. If you switch on or off a light, and nothing happens then you might be dreaming.
But this one is also quite weak because you might not be around a light switch or the light switch might actually WORK in your dreams. And that creates a ‘false positive’ reality check result.
We’ll get onto why you can get false positives soon.
18: Look at your phone
Your phone screen acts like a reality check. The details on the screen like the little symbols at the top, the battery level, the time, and the image in the wallpaper are often different or act weird in dreams.
So look at your phone screen, and see what’s different.
If you notice something is different then you might be dreaming. It’s easier to spot this if you have a clear background image like ab object or even some text or a few numbers.
If you want to take this one step further, you can change your wallpaper to be something like a series of numbers or text that’s very clear to see. Then you’ll notice the changes more easily in the dream.
19: Try and lift something really heavy with no effort
I teach this technique in my Lucid Superpowers course. If you practice trying to lift really heavy objects like cars with no effort, they become reality checks.
Place your hands very lightly on a heavy object that you KNOW you can’t lift in real life. Use things like:
- A really heavy sofa
- A car
- Part of the house like a wall
- A fridge or oven
And as you lightly place your hands on the object, tell yourself that you’re going to be able to easily lift it, with no effort at all. Now of course in real life you’ll never be able to lift the object (unless you’re really strong). But in the dream, you will!
20: Build up your NATURAL awareness (The best reality check)
This is probably the most important reality check for lucid dreaming, in my opinion. I find that the best reality check is when you TRAIN your brain to use MULTIPLE reality checks, in different situations.
What do I mean by this?
You want to train your brain to use lots of different situations as TRIGGERS to do reality checks.
- For example, every time you see water, try and push your foot down on it and see if you can WALK on it
- Every time you’re outside, visualise the clouds moving and following your thoughts and desires
- Every time you look at your hands, see if anything seems strange
- If you’re in a new or random place, ask yourself where you were ten minutes ago (mental reality check)
- If you have some time, look at your hands and do the finger palm push
- If you’re around lots of people, ask someone ‘am I dreaming?’
- If you check the time on your phone, look away one more time then look BACK at the phone, to see if something’s different
By doing this, you build up the HABIT and practice of self awareness and testing your reality. And THAT will make you lucid like nothing else. No technique or trick comes close to building THAT habit.
How to deal with false positive reality check results
Sometimes, as you’re doing reality checks and trying to lucid dream you’ll end up getting what’s called ‘false positives’. This is where you do a reality check IN your dream, but it doesn’t make you lucid.
It’s usually because the action or result failed.
For example, you dreamed about doing a reality check like the checking text reality check. But you didn’t notice anything strange or different in the dream, so it didn’t make you lucid. There was no ‘result’. This is really common.
I teach how to avoid this in GREAT detail in the Ultimate Reality Checks Manual but here’s the gist of it:
- Always spend lots of time doing the reality check
- Use reality checks that can’t easily have a false positive, like finger palm push and pinching your nose
- Be patient and keep trying (we all have false positives sometimes)
- Meditate during the day for ten minutes
- Do reality checks first thing in the morning
How to REMEMBER to do reality checks during the day
Lots of people report that it’s difficult to actually remember to do these reality checks during the day. If you don’t actually DO reality checks a lot during the day, nothing will happen! There are some easy things you can do to make sure you remember to test your reality:
- Write a note on your door reminding you
- Set your phone background to a lucid dreaming picture or ‘Are you dreaming?’
- Read our ultimate reality checks manual front to back!
- Set a timer on your phone to go off every two hours, reminding you to do one
- Use our free lucid dreaming app to set reminders randomly
In fact, I made a whole video talking about how to use the lucid dreaming app to set reminders, and get your reality checks to show up in your dreams. It’s pretty effective, check it out:
But to REMEMBER to do reality checks, you have to set the intention.
That’s how your prospective memory works, you need to WANT to remember to do them. Imagine yourself in the future remembering to do reality checks. That alone will help you do more of them.
In the Lucid Dreaming Bootcamp course, I give you specific challenges and reality check triggers to practice with as part of the course, and the results people have had have been AMAZING. It really does work, and does give you regular, reliable lucid dreams.
How many reality checks should I do in a day?
There is no set number of reality checks you should do in a day to lucid dream. It really comes down to just doing them whenever you remember, and whenever you see or experience something strange. This is the most effective way to get them to show up in your dreams, and make you lucid.
But of course, you can test this yourself.
I always encourage my students to TEST things like reality checks, and see what works the best for them.
This is the only way to really know what’s working for you. You can test this by keeping a spreadsheet and tracking which reality checks work, and which ones don’t. I include a spreadsheet like this in my Lucid Breakthrough course as a bonus.
How long does it take reality checks to work?
It takes reality checks about 1-2 months to start really showing up in your dreams reliably. This is what puts most people off, because they give up before the reality checks start showing up in their dreams. They need to be done every single day as well, otherwise they’re just not as effective.
My reality checks are not working!
If your reality checks are not working or not showing up, there’s probably a few things you’re doing wrong. In fact, reality checks are usually about one of the following things:
- Your intention wasn’t strong enough
- You’re not practicing prospective memory techniques
- You don’t know how to do them properly
- You’re not varying them up
- You’re not being patient enough
- You can’t actually REMEMBER your dreams in the first place
If you can’t remember your dreams, that’s your number ONE problem. you might be doing reality checks every night, but if you can’t remember at least 1-2 dreams per night, don’t bother trying.
Your intention is another big one.
You need to REALLY want to do reality checks, and visualise yourself doing them IN THE DREAM. Imagine yourself becoming lucid within the dream as a result of the reality checks. This alone will make a big difference for you, and probably make you lucid more often.
VARYING your reality checks can make or break your success. By varying them up, you give your brain and subconscious mind another chance to ‘notice’ that you’re dreaming.
If you JUST do one reality check over and over again, what happens if you don’t dream about it?
What happens if your chosen reality check is the looking at text one, but you don’t dream about text? You’ll just never have the reality check SHOW UP. So you need to vary them and try different ones.
Anyway, let’s get onto the big list of reality checks, now that you know HOW they work.
Some useful tools for doing reality checks
The lucid talisman is a very useful ‘totem’ you can use to reality check.
It’s a custom designed coin with engravings and lucid dreaming symbols on it. Also, make sure to follow our 30 day lucid dream bootcamp, to ‘force’ yourself to lucid dream. Reality checks are a big part of the bootcamp!
If you struggle to get reality checks to show up in your dreams, or you’d like to have a deeper understanding about them then our ultimate reality checks manual will help. We created a super detailed Ebook guide for you guys to show exactly what reality checks are the best, when to do them, plus LOADS more.
By the way if you’re reading about reality checks, the chances are you’re pretty new to lucid dreaming, right?
Read the following articles: