It is 'real' in the sense that it is different from normal and lucid dreams. I'm not sure if you literally leave body though, or if it is some form of sleepwalking or very vivid sleep paralysis.
-in my experience, astral projection and sleep paralysis (which I think are the same phenomenon since SP leads to AP) leave physical traces in the real world or on my body. I do not practice astral projection anymore because of this.
-I once attempted to move a pen while astral projecting. I set it out on my nightstand before I slept. Once I got out of my body i tried for a while to move it and was able to tilt it very slightly. I entered my body again, but when I woke up the pen was gone. Something happened to it obviously. I dont know what.
-When astral projecting, things start off looking exactly like the real world. Its dark so you dont see color, things are exactly as you left them. But as you stay in it, strange things will occur: first some of your senses become more intense. The silence 'sounds' too loud, and youll 'see' weird distortions. Ill be able to see the walls of where I live in greater detail and 'know' the shapes behind them: outlines of shapes show up in strange colors that don't exist in the real world. like a kaleidoscope maybe? all of this superimposed over the 'real' world that looks exactly the same as if you were awake. Then, your physical sensation gets heightened. If youve ever been tickled, imagine that over your entire body slowly creeping up on you. At this point hearing, sight, and sense are completely overloaded (ive never tasted or smelled anything while astral projecting). Then maybe youll see shadow movement out of the corner of your eye, or (more often) out of the kaleidoscope effect certain 'beings' will form and un-form. This is the farthest I had ever gotten, since usually at this point the sensory overload becomes painful and I feel pulled back toward my body. Imagine you are a rubber band stretched out, and once you lose enough focus you get slingshotted back into your body. Immediately afterwards I usually feel intense pain in certain parts of my body from the violent return back. Maybe my head really hurts or my stomach or chest. I have also had a few situations where I feel uncalibrated with my body: I feel further ahead or behind, or sometimes my body moves before I do. Usually these effects go away after about 10 minutes.
-On one occasion in particular, I was astral projecting while Post too long. Click here to view the full text.