When I was young I remember longing to be an adult. Then, time couldn't pass fast enough. That is, unless it was time to put my book down or go home for dinner. Now, it feels like the months and years fly by. That's pretty cliche isn't it? So, is it true? Does time really speed up with each year that passes?
Almost all adults, 20- 120, feel like time moves fast. Young people told researchers in 1990 that they "expected" time to go faster as they got older and 15 years later, when polled, it had. Adults of all ages agree on the speed with which hours, weeks, or months pass but when asked, "How fast did the last ten years pass for you?" perspectives differ. Years pass faster as we approach the age of 50. At 50 the speed plateaus. If anything, later years move as fast at 50 as they do at 80.
Adults say time flies in part because pressure influences time perception. A 2013 study found that hours, weeks, and months sped by in proportion to one’s sense of time pressure. When asked, "How fast did the last ten years pass for you?" People under pressure for the past decade said it flew by.
Emotions, meditation, drugs, and medical conditions also affect time perception. Fear, for instance, slows time down. Some people do find time to see their life pass before their eyes in near death situations. Meditation alters time by lengthening durations. Drugs can change time perception and medical conditions, like Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s damage areas of the brain involved in measuring time. Lacking the ability to sense time, as the forum Mom’s with ADHD/ADD explains, makes it hard to keep schedules and operate in the "now" world. Of course, "now," like time, is a relative notion if it exists for us at all as Vsauce Michael, the layman's scientist, explains in this video.
It's easy to see why adults might experience time flying by but why don't we feel that way as children? Some scientists say it's about mathematics and psychological perspective. Height and size may also be factors. Vsauce explains how height determines the time it takes for stimulus at the extremities to reach the brain and, thus, perceive the immediate, the "now." As adults, that lag time can be as high as 3 seconds but small children get an instantaneous signal rush to the brain. They're immersed in the immediacy of life. As adults we know that immersion in experience can help us to "lose track of time." In fact, very young children "live in time" before they have the development to realize time passes. In addition, new studies are discovering that smaller bodies with higher metabolic rates experience slower time . If that's substantiated it would explain why time felt so slow in childhood--to our senses it was.
Are there reasons why time seems to go faster as we age? Probably so and the good news is that there's a way to relieve that effect. Many scientists agree that learning something new and engaging in exciting experiences will slow time down and build satisfying memories. So, when time feels like its slipping away in a hurry open your door, meet new people, and experience life! You may not stop the clock but when you look back you'll see memories and moments that add meaning to your years.