No, It’s Not Just You: Why Time Speeds Up As We Get Older

How a clock measures time and how we perceive it are quite different. As we grow older, it can often feel like time goes by faster and faster. Over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down, and this is what makes time “speed up” as we grow older. The size and complexity of the networks of neurons in our brain increases and electrical signals must traverse greater distances, which means signal processing takes more time. Aging also causes our nerves to accumulate damage that provides resistance to the flow of electrical signals, further slowing processing time. Slower processing times result in us perceiving fewer “frames-per-second.” In other words, more actual time passes between the perception of each new mental image. This is what leads to time passing more rapidly. Look at it this way: When you’re 4, you’ve had 4 birthdays, 4 winters, 4 summers, etc., so everything you’ve collected in your brain related to time is divided by those events. At 24, it’s 1/24th of your total time memory, so you start looking for a new swimsuit in April. At 84…..well, if you’re still counting….it takes a lot more memory dividing than just 4 or 24. On the plus side, at 84 you probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a swimsuit anyway, so no worries!