Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Near Death Experiences Linked to REM Intrusion

According to a new study, many persons with a Near Death Experience (NDE) have symptoms of REM sleep intruding into wakefulness:
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.
Persons with narcolepsy commonly have symptoms of REM sleep intruding into wakefulness, including sleep paralysis (waking up and not being able to move), cataplexy (sudden bilateral muscle weakness/limpness in response to strong emotion) and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations (hallucinations, usually visual, as one is falling asleep or waking up).
These symptoms occur when features of REM sleep (muscle paralysis, dreams) occur during wakefulness.
I wonder Near Death Experiences are more common in narcoleptics??


VictoryGrey said...

it makes sense that nde's would be more common in a narcoleptic. the hallucinations that accompany sp are often of leaving the body, same as many nde experiences. being close to death may trigger a similar quick shift in consciousness as dropping right into REM.

that said, i have a personal question related to narcolepsy and sp.

are there other sleep disorders that can cause sp and hypnagogic hallucinations (i've never had cataplexy)? i experienced these symptoms for a few years in my early to mid 20's. i am 29 now.

i have always been a light sleeper (hard to get to sleep due to external stimuli, lots of thoughts in my head, and waking up easily), except for a period of a couple of years in my teens when i was sleeping so deeply that i wet the bed because i couldn't wake up to go to the toilet. :(

also in my teen years, i began staying up into the early morning (2-6am) and then crashing and not getting up for school. these days i try to put myself to bed around 2-3 in the morning, and i get up at 8. i am tired throughout the day, but my clock doesn't reset.

if i'm completely exhausted (if i got no sleep or maybe 1-2 hours), i might come home from work and crash until the next morning, though it's usually extremely poor sleep that feels more like i am awake and thinking most of the time. and then it's back to the regular schedule of not enough sleep and feeling sleepy throughout the day.

what "feeling sleepy" means to me: i want to go to sleep. if i'm in a meeting, i'm yawning several times a minute. other times, i feel foggy (and still yawning). i close my eyes a lot. i forget things too easily. things that happened earlier in the day. i often daydream of having a bed under my desk. i don't fall asleep spontaneously. i wouldn't be able to because i am too sensitive to lights and noises. to keep functioning, i drink tea at work, even though the caffeine makes me feel like complete crap (i have tried going off the caffeine and i saw no improvement to my sleep).

i've never seen a doctor about my sleep problems because they didn't seem that severe. looking back, that seems silly because it's detrimentally affected my time in school and at most of my jobs. the past year, i started drinking before bed both to get that sleepy feeling and to shut my brain up. yeah, i feel sleepy throughout the day and then i come home and bam! i'm awake.

i've recently been thinking a lot about seeing a sleep specialist. but having stumbled upon your blog, i'm also curious to hear your opinion of whether this might be a type of narcolepsy or if these symptoms could be indicative of another sleep disorder (just insomnia?).


Michael Rack, MD said...

Sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations can occasionally occur in normal people. They can occasionally occur in sleep disorders, such as osa, that fragment sleep.
Narcolepsy is a definite possibility. I think seeing a sleep specialist is a good idea.

IrishDaze said...

@VictoryGrey --

You sound as if you could be describing my life before I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.

Since I was diagnosed, I have seen dramatic improvement. I'm not fixed yet, but that's because I have other problems (in addition to OSA).

Pls, look into OSA for your own good. Contact a sleep specialist as soon as you can.