In this story, a character always finds himself in situations where he cannot tell whether he is dreaming or not and then later on, has trouble remembering whether such thing actually happened or if he just dreamt it.

I'm assuming this is entirely possible (especially because he's being drugged) but feel free to tell me otherwise.

What would be the ways for such a person to tell whether he is dreaming, and later on to know if something actually happened?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There's a discussion about this question going on on Worldbuilding Meta, feel free to join in. $\endgroup$
    – overactor
    Oct 27, 2014 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ Downvoting because this question shows a lack of research effort, as per downvote tooltip (and meta post) $\endgroup$
    – Mourdos
    Oct 27, 2014 at 14:21
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Voting to close because actually knowing if you're dreaming or not has nothing to do with WB. IMHO it's a "lifehack" or plot device $\endgroup$
    – Liath
    Oct 27, 2014 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, this does not belong here. $\endgroup$
    – Sheraff
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


As @overactor already mentioned, there's a thread in the meta that discusses this question. That discussion also links to this article, which is a well enough primer on how to recognize whether you're dreaming. It basically follows the tried and tested outline for learning how to have lucid dreams, which is made up (not only, but mainly) of the following parts:

  • Establishing a habit to check whether one is dreaming right now. This will normally be done with 'reality checks', like counting your fingers (in a dream you might have 12) or trying to breathe with your nose and mouth closed (might work in dreams). Ideally, you'll do these checks when dreaming and will therefore notice that you're dreaming.
  • Establishing a mindset where you question unlikely occurences. These occurences could be you losing a tooth, winning a car, etc. This is not likely to happen in real life, so if it happens, you might just be dreaming.

These might or might not be applicable to your scenario, as being drugged could lead your character to misinterpret these signs or mess up the reality checks.

As for remembering if a certain situation really happened, I'd go with writing it down in a diary or nicking a shoe/belt/one's own arm when your character is sure they're dreaming. Once they're sure they're indeed awake they can check their diary/nick and see if they dreamt it.


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