Dream recall refers, unsurprisingly, to dreams that we can recall or remember. This is different to the term “dream” because you can have dreams that you don’t remember. In fact, most dreams are dreams that you don’t remember. So dream recall refers to the few that do get retained by waking consciousness.
People differ in how high their dream recall is: some people just naturally recall their dreams much more often than others. Dream recall is related to a number of different factors, such as how deeply you sleep, personality type, how much importance you ascribe to dreams, motivation to recall dreams, cultural factors, sex/gender differences, and more.
But it is not completely predetermined; anyone can increase their recall with a little effort. If you would like to increase your recall, the best practice is to motivate yourself each night before you go to sleep (tell yourself “I will remember my dreams in the morning”), and then when you wake up, try to stay as close to the dream state as you can. Don’t jump out of bed, or grab your phone, or start planning your day right away; stay still in bed, keep your eyes closed, try to put yourself back in the dream you just woke up from. Record anything you can remember, even if it’s just a fragment, or even just a feeling. The more you do this the more you’ll recall. But don’t worry if you go through times when you can’t remember a thing: dream recall also fluctuates depending on what you’ve got going on in your life. Myself, I barely recall anything if I’m really stressed out. I try to just go with the flow when that happens and trust that they’ll come back when things have calmed down. Dream recall is also impacted by some substances. For example, it is well-known that cannabis suppresses dreams.