A reality check is a way of quickly establishing whether you’re in a dream, or what “reality” you’re in.

Mentally in a lucid dream you feel much the same as you would in waking life. When you never do a reality check, you will assume you’re physically present and you go along with the story, how ever convoluted it may be.


While sometimes we think of dreams as basically “anything goes,” no rules, that isn’t true.

The dream environment is a dimension with its own laws of physics that are predictable.

In a dream environment the laws of physics seem to be mutable by the will of the dreamer (you), accounting for how not all reality checks work the same for everyone, but nevertheless there are enough commonalities that most of these reality checks should work for you.

Lack of Gravity

Gravity is an easy check to make.

You can:

  • Jump in the air. If you float down softly, you’re in a dream.
  • Drop down onto your butt quickly. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re in a dream.
  • Try to fly.
  • Start running. If you find yourself taking extra-long, floaty steps, you’re in a dream.


The dream environment made by you and is impermanent and illusory.

Can you do any of these?

  • Stick your hand into your body
  • Walk through a wall, or push your hands through it
  • Float through the ceiling

Your Physical Imperfections and Handicaps

I have a friend who lost a leg. She knows when she’s dreaming because her missing leg is always present and she can walk normally again.

You can check yourself for any problem you physically have that has disappeared:

  • A missing limb
  • Chronic pain
  • Skin imperfections
  • Bad vision

Seeing Your Body

Hold out your hands in front of you. Do they look strange? Do they glow? Are they invisible?

Can you look down and see your body?

Mirrors behave strangely too. We see a different face looking back at us, a la the movie Vanilla Sky. I tend to see nothing at all, like I’m a ghost.


Many people have a feeling of soft or intense vibrations before “leaving” their body in a projection.

I don’t really experience that, but I do have a constant soft buzzing feeling in any dream. I stop moving and check my hands and arms for the feeling. This is something I have noticed in all dreams since I was a kid, whenever I thought to check for it.



We have particular trouble keeping numbers and letters consistent in dreams. Look at anything with numbers or words, glance away, and  back at it. It will keep changing at every glance.

  • Clocks
  • Cell phones
  • Street signs
  • License plates
  • Books

Other things change, too. Our dreams by nature are ever-changing as our thoughts change.

Aside from numbers and letters, does anything else change as you look around?

  • Furniture
  • People
  • The sky

Can you create or disappear objects?


Can you:

  • Hold your breath indefinitely?
  • Breathe underwater?

Double Them Up!

I find that doing two reality checks for good measure has been necessary at times.

Sure, I can plop down on my butt a couple times and it feels like I’m dropping slowly onto a pillow, but perhaps I still don’t feel comfortable jumping out the window and flying off without doing another check like walking through a wall.

Check During the Day

Several times during the day, do a reality check to create the habit and reinforce the result. Honestly stop and check whether you’re dreaming. even if it seems obvious to you that you are not.

Do a reality check right now!

If you don’t check periodically, you probably won’t remember to check during a dream.


After enough tests, you will become familiar enough with the different state of consciousness you are projecting into that you don’t need to rely on reality checks much. You just know, the same as you would know where you are if you were suddenly dropped on a familiar road near your home, without having to check everything around you to confirm.

Personally, I found immense value in some of the reality checks mentioned above. I would not have been able to discern the reality without them. Gradually I relied less on them, as I knew instantly as soon as I began projecting, either from simply accepting the fact that I already knew I was dreaming and refusing to get caught up in it, or noticing the first thing that happens, such as my feeling of lack of body mass as I hopped out of bed. On the other hand, I still have plenty of non-lucid dreams, so I’m certainly not beyond benefiting from doing reality checks more often.