Have you ever seen your whole life flash before your eyes? You may have had an NDE, or near-death experience, and per a new study, you've got company. Research presented at the European Academy of Neurology Congress shows that 10% of 1,034 people from 35 countries had what qualifies as a "true" NDE, according to a release. Their experiences included feeling at "total peace," hearing angels singing, feeling like their souls had been "sucked out," and having out-of-body sensations. Scientists used the Greyson NDE Scale as their assessment tool, with 289 people reporting an NDE; 106 of those subjects qualified as having "true" NDE by getting a score of 7 or higher on the questionnaire. The NDEs were just as common in subjects who'd experienced perilous situations (e.g., car crashes, heart attacks, etc.) as in those who hadn't.
Researchers believe this phenomenon may have a neurological cause, mainly because subjects who said they'd had NDEs also tended to have a history of sleep disturbances during the REM cycle, which could put them in a state somewhere between being asleep and awake. "People may wake up and they'll be paralyzed and unable to move," Dr. Kevin Nelson, a neurologist not involved with the study, tells NBC News. "They may have visual or auditory hallucinations. Usually they're terrified." Skeptics of the study, which hasn't appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, say people reporting NDEs may just be having "sleep events." Study author Daniel Kondziella isn't ruling that out, though he's keeping an open mind. "As a scientist, I think there is a biological explanation," he says. "But if there is a deeper meaning for them, that is a question for philosophers and religious leaders." (Read more discoveries stories.)