A new study looks at what types of people are more likely to have near-death experiences.
Researchers surveyed 55 people who’d had a near-death experience (NDE) and 55 who had not. The experience was defined as a life-threatening episode such as a car accident or heart attack when the person experienced a variety of feelings, including:
* a sense of unusual peace
* being outside their bodies
* seeing intense light
For 60 percent of those who had been through an NDE, the rapid-eye movement (REM) state of sleep intrudes into their regular consciousness while awake, the study found. Both before and after their traumatic event, these people had experiences that include waking up and not being able to move, sudden muscle weakness in their legs, and hearing sounds that no one else hears upon waking or falling asleep.
Only 24 percent of people who had not had an NDE report this REM intrusion.
Researcher Kevin Nelson, a neurologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington points out that while dreaming also occurs in REM sleep, near-death experiences are not the same as dreams. They’re usually more vivid and lack the bizarre elements of dreams.