Our Perception of Time as We Age

The days are long and the months are short. One day, you’ve graduated high school, the next day you’re married with children. Work feels mundane and repetitive because it is, and the time you have off flies by like it was never there to begin with.

Feeling as though life is passing you by is unnerving, like you’re out of control of how quickly everything is happening. Interestingly enough, physical time–minutes and hours–has remained the same our entire life. What changes is our internal perception of how time passes by.

Scientists reason that our perception of time speeds up because we’re not learning as much information as we did when we were children. Many adults do the same thing every day, week after week, and although routine is necessary for success and stability, it doesn’t always engage our brain’s stimuli.

Some events from our childhood can feel more memorable than events that occurred recently. This is because when you’re young, you experience almost everything for the first time, and doing something for the first time is usually always memorable.

When you are young and experiencing lots of new stimuli—everything is new—time actually seems to be passing more slowly. As you get older, the production of mental images slows, giving the sense that time passes more rapidly.

Physics explains why time passes faster as you age By Ephrat Livni
Why the Days Seem Shorter as We Get Older By Adrian Bejan

Slowing Down Time

Physical time remains the same, but our perception of time is changeable. There are ways to combat the inevitable acceleration of life, and how it seems to fly by before us. Two important elements are health and education.

Doctors usually say the something similar to, “Get a good night’s rest, eat healthy, and exercise.” Usually we all nod, and forget what he’s recommended a month later. If you want your day to last longer, it might be advantageous to start taking this advice.

Sleep is not only necessary for your brain to rest, but time goes by faster when you’re dozing off while half awake. Eating healthy brain food is critical for energy, function, and processing information. Exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym, it can be a new outdoor activity you’ve never tried.

Memory is short-lived and many of us just aren’t that engaged in the everyday things we’re doing, so if you slow down and engage more in the moment, and look back on everything deeply later, you may find time lasting longer.”

Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD from Why our sense of time speeds up as we age — and how to slow it down By Nicole Spector

Learning something stimulates the brain and changes our perception of time. When the brain doesn’t have lots of information to process or it’s processing the same things, time feels faster. Learning new information doesn’t just have to be out of a book or a documentary. Experiencing different things, going to new places, meeting people, and engaging in spontaneous activities are all forms of learning.

If you feel like your life is flying by, take a moment to look at where you are and what you’re doing daily. Make time to learn something new, find a new adventure, and take care of yourself. We only have one life, don’t miss it.

Comments

  1. Reading as I struggle to keep my eyes open. Thanks, I know these things but it helps to read them over and over and over.

    Like

  2. Good advice and great information. I’ve also read that time goes by faster when you’re older because the time you’ve been alive is longer. For example, 1 year when you’re 5 feels like a long time because it’s 1/5 of your life. But 1 year when you’re 40 doesn’t seem so long because it’s 1/40 of your life. Make sense?

    Like

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