Near death, experiences remain one of the most controversial topics discussed, particularly in the scientific community. While there is no consensus regarding the typical causes of a near-death experience, also known as an NDE, there have been agreements on the most common elements involved in these happenings. Researchers have identified an NDE as including feelings of euphoria or peace where the individual feels as if they are “floating around a room” and having an out-of-body sensation. Reports have been made of seeing deceased family members or a tunnel with a light at the end; therefore it is difficult for people to take account of all happenings in an NDE.
Despite the vagueness of these near-death experiences, people who experienced NDEs are numerous. Sam Parnia is one of the most well-known scientists examining NDEs and focused on patients who underwent actual death experiences. His studies used patients who experienced cardiac arrest but then were resuscitated to complete surveys on their encounters during the “actual death” period.
Dr. Parnia used this methodology because he was not happy with the explanations for causes of NDEs. For example, he stated that the element of euphoria might be attributed to feelings of happiness and not necessarily a part of a near-death experience. Dr. Kevin Nelson, another researcher in this field, agreed with Parnia; however, he feels less concerned with finding a core explanation for NDE causes and is content with examining specific reasons for individual NDE cases. He believes that multiple factors are involved in NDEs, and the below elements contribute to the experiences.
1. Reduced Blood Flow
According to Dr. Nelson, one of the most common causes of an NDE is fainting or a reduced flow of blood to the brain. The loss of oxygen to the eye can also contribute to “tunnel vision” where the person sees the light at the end of a tunnel. Fainting with the sensation of tunnel vision can be misconstrued as a near-death experience.
2. Chemicals Released
When a body is near death, it will release a surge of epinephrine, steroids, and adrenaline. According to Dr. Parnia, the mass release of these chemicals could contribute to the sensation of euphoria or other hallucinations. An early theory on near-death experiences indicated that the psychedelic chemical DMT or dimethyltryptamine was released in the brain as soon as the body assumed it was dying; however, this has become speculative.
3. Part Of REM Sleep
REM sleep patterns are a phase of sleep most closely related to dreaming. Nelson proposed that a person will enter a form of REM sleep when approaching death. He stated that if the brain is functioning to the point when it realizes it is in danger, it will create a sleep-state “fight or flight response” in the form of a dream. This means that the individual will be aware of the situation despite being asleep and a sensation of floating or out-of-body experience will be felt.
4. Triggering Memories
Triggering memories is a common symptom of near-death experiences as many people who have had NDEs will report memories of loved ones. According to research, a person’s sense of consciousness will become active when placed in threatening situations such as a near-death experience. The long-term memory and fight or flight responses are connected; therefore, people may recall the NDE quite vividly.
Final Words On The Matter
While there is not a consensus on the cause of near-death experiences, the effects associated with the NDEs are documented in scientific research. Whatever the reason, many people do feel changed when facing this experience and will find the experience contributing to changes in their personality and outlook on life.