Geo Bell 26/12/2015
What are reality checks?
Reality checks, also known as state-tests, are actions which a dreamer can perform to test whether he or she is currently dreaming. In this respect they are a method of inducing lucid dreams, in that once performed in a dream may produce a Dream Induced Lucid Dream (DILD).
Forming a daily habit of regularly reality checking in waking life is a simple way of increasing the chances of inducing spontaneous lucid dreams at night. The idea is that this learned behaviour will, sooner or later, creep its way into one of your dreams, where you will perform a reality check and then realise that you're in a dream. This method produces less frequent lucid dreams than other cognitive techniques such as MILD, or even Spotting Dreamsigns, and so should be used in combination with other techniques such as these.
There are a number of reality checks which you can use, some of which work for different reasons. To find out why reality checks work, read Why Reality Checks Work In Dreams
The Nose-Plug Check
Breathing through your nose isn't possible whilst you're pinching it closed, unless, that is, you're in a dream. The Nose-Plug Check is one of the most popular methods of reality checking, and has a very high success rate. The only reason why this might not work, would be if your face was digging into your pillow or your nose was particularly stuffy!
The Finger-Through-Palm Check
Another popular reality check is to try sticking one of your index fingers through the palm of the other hand. In waking life this would be quite a (gory) feat, but in your dreams anything is possible. Doing this in a dream feels very surreal, almost as weird as...
Checking Your Hands
In many cases, looking at your hands in dreams produces some weird and wonderful results. In dreams, tiny details such as your intricate fingerprints aren't always simulated with complete accuracy. Neither, for that matter, is the correct number of fingers! You might find that you have 6 digits on each hand. Your thumbs might resemble your big toes, your palms may ripple like waves, or your hands might be morphed altogether.
Everybody knows that gravity, along with almost everything else, is all in the mind when it comes to dreaming. A simple reality check which you can really have fun with is to try floating, flying off into space, or testing how high you can jump. This one's a little strange to perform in public though, so it's best to leave this one for times you're pretty sure you're dreaming, and certainly don't try flying/jumping off any tall buildings or objects in waking life!
Digital Watch Check
Electronics don't function in dreams like they do in waking life. The page you're reading now certainly wouldn't be as eligible in your dreams. Even a simple time display on a digital watch is met with morphed symbols, or a lack of lights completely. This is a very reliable reality check, and one that I have personally used to induce countless Dream Induced Lucid Dreams. Another alternative is to keep a digital alarm clock by your bedside. In dreams, the time display will malfunction, and prompt lucidity! Getting into a habit of checking your digital alarm clock every chance is an easy way of inducing extra DILDs.
For reasons explained in this article, reading a piece of text in a dream is pretty difficult. Reading the odd word or sentence is not impossible, but to look away from it, look back, and then read it again coherently without it morphing in some way, is very unlikely.
So am I dreaming?
I can't tell you that, but doing one the reality checks listed above will answer that for you.