Scientists studying people who have had near-death experiences (NDEs) believe they are close to a groundbreaking explanation of why some people have them and some don’t, reports the Daily Express.
Feelings of detachment and being outside the body and an overriding sensation of serenity and security in the presence of a beautiful light are all typical NDEs, but why do only some people who experience a close call with the grim reaper experience them?
Scientists believe they might be close to the answer and they suspect it’s all to do with sleep patterns.
Researchers from the University of Kentucky analyzed 55 people who have had a brush with death. These “life-threatening episodes of danger” could be anything from a car crash to cardiac arrest.
This same group of people explained how they experienced a sense of heightened awareness, a feeling of being detached from their body, a feeling of serenity, and the presence of an intense and peaceful light during the period when they were lost in the limbo between life and death.
Researchers also analyzed another 55 people who nearly died, yet experienced nothing, except for a sense of nothingness.
The scientists discovered that those who experienced NDEs are more susceptible to a condition called REM intrusion. This condition makes it harder for the sufferers to differentiate between the state of sleep and wakeful consciousness. In REM intrusion, the world of dreams tends to bleed into the world of reality and the two often become confused.
The University of Kentucky issued a statement which explains the phenomena of REM intrusion in detail.
“Examples of this REM intrusion include waking up and feeling that you cannot move, having sudden muscle weakness in your legs, and hearing sounds just before falling asleep or just after waking up that other people can’t hear.”
Neurologist Kevin Nelson wrote the research papers and explained, “These findings suggest that REM state intrusion contributes to near death experiences.
“People who have near death experiences may have an arousal system that predisposes them to REM intrusion. For example, the feeling of an outer body experience has also been linked to the REM state and the feeling of being surrounded by light could be based on the visual activity that occurs during the REM state. REM states can also cause muscles to completely relax.
“During a crisis that occurs with REM state intrusion, this lack of muscle tone could reinforce a person’s sense of being dead and convey the impression of death to other people.”
The study’s findings, however, are not conclusive. Only just over half of people who had an NDE had also experienced REM intrusion. Meanwhile, 24 percent of people who had REM intrusion have not had an NDE.