Human near-death experiences may have arisen from an evolutionary mechanism, researchers report.
Following a potentially life-threatening event, people often report seeing their "lives flashing before their eyes", where a multitude of memories from life events are recalled almost instantaneously. Researchers present theories on why this phenomenon may occur.
Near-death experiences (NDEs) including hallucinations, out-of-body sensations and time distortions, affect around 10% of people, a new study reports. 72% of people overall who experienced NDEs say their experience was unpleasant. Researchers found an association between NDEs and REM sleep intrusion into wakefulness, resulting in sleep paralysis and hallucinations.
Those who claim to have had a near death experience are likely to report the event had some universal elements, such as entering a tunnel or seeing bright lights. However, researchers report not every experience contains all the elements, or the elements do not appear in fixed order across the reports of the people who claimed NDE.