Why Does Time Seem To Go Faster As We Age?

Why Does Time Seem To Go Faster As We Age?

Posted by Lori Shemek; January 1, 2014

Yes, we humans age – it’s inevitable. We see the chronological aging right before our eyes but we cannot see are the psychological changes that occur with regard to our sense of time. This is apparently a universal feeling across different cultures.

Remember as a child, a 15 minute drive seemed to take hours  and a few days before an exciting event seemed to take years before it arrived? Remember how long summer vacation seemed between school years?

As people get older, “they just have this sense, this feeling that time is going faster than they are,” says Warren Meck, a psychology professor at Duke University.

Science has their theories however.

One such theory expands on the notion of ‘firsts’; our first kiss, first car, first Christmas, etc., etc. That our world is seemingly more dynamic due to the new information we garner with every new moment as opposed to long strings of ‘no firsts’ and for many, virtually an adult life without interruption of ‘firsts.’

When I was a little five year old girl, around Christmas time, I remember asking my mother where a family friend was going and how long she would be gone. She said “She is going away on a trip and would be gone for a very long time” I responded: “Until next Christmas?” meaning that, in my eyes, Christmas was a ‘very long time away’ When  you think back on your childhood memories, one occasion to the next seemed like forever.

o to our younger brains, there was a lot to remember and , to think about and thus the we have the very real feeling that our memories must have taken forever. According to Neuroscientist David Eagleman of Baylor College of Medicine: “It’s a construction of the brain,” says Eagleman. “The more memory you have of something, you think, ‘Wow, that really took a long time!’  He goes on to give an example of this in our everyday life: when you drive to your new job for the first time. It seems much slower vs. the driving back and forth later on..there is nothing new or ‘first’ about it.

Dr. William Friedman, psychology professor at Oberlin College suggests a few theories:

  1. Years are relatively smaller. As we age, each year is a smaller proportion of our time. For a 10-year old, a birthday represents 1/10 of life. For an 80 year old, at birthday is 1/80 of life.
  2. The biological clock slows. With age, some of our bodily processes slow down. Our internal clock can run slower compared to the external calendar.
  3. Paying attention to external cues can be difficult. We judge time by noticing cues such as clocks, church bells, seeing the sun rise or set. If you are concentrating, it is easy to ignore those time cues.

What can you do to slow down the seemingly accelerated passage of time?

Be Mindful.  Simply stop and take deep breaths and consciously slow down; remember the highlights of your day..be mindful of separating events in your day, pay attention to what is going on around you during the day.

..and just what little children do..live in the moment.

To Your Health,
~Lori

© 2013 DLS HealthWorks, LLC. 
Lori Shemek, PhD, Health and weight loss expert, is the best-selling author of Fire-Up Your Fat Burn!