Moving in Slow Motion
We’ve all seen thrillers where actors walk away from an explosion in slow motion for dramatic effect, but these slow-mo moments might also be experienced outside the of the silver screen. In life-threatening or dangerous situations, people often say that time seems to slow down, and there’s a fairly logical reason why.
In 2007, a group of psychologists carried out a test where people fell 50 meters into a safety net and then were asked about their experience. Aside from being obviously terrified, researchers found that the test subjects recalled the experience as longer that it actually was, largely due to the way our bodies respond to danger. The adrenaline we produce allows us to concentrate better when in a life-threatening situation so that we can stay alive. As a result, everything seems to pass in slow motion because we remember far more details over a short period of time.
Speeding Up With Age
It’s commonly said that as we get older, time passes in the “blink of an eye”. Aside from the part that technology plays in speeding up our understanding of time, another factor affects our perception of time as we get older, and it’s something we can’t really change.
When young and fresh-faced, we’re constantly discovering new and exciting things that we’ve not experienced before, and we naturally pay a lot more attention to them. As we get older, though, those “new” experiences grow pale. By extension, time seems to pass more quickly. Interestingly, a study carried out in 1997 by Mangan and Bolinsky went some way to proving that older people really do perceive time differently. While people in their 20’s could guess when three minutes had passed fairly accurately, those in their 60’s overestimated the time elapsed by about 20%, giving some credence to the idea that time really does speed up with age.
One of the smallest but most enjoyable pleasures in the world is the humble afternoon nap. A quick, 20-minute power nap can revitalize us just enough to carry on with the rest of the day, but any longer than that and our ability to tell the time goes out the window.
When we’re tired, our perception of time goes completely off-kilter. That’s because when we’re sleep deprived, our brains just can’t keep up with discerning between short and long stretches of time. The length of time we nap is also key to how our mind keeps time. After 20 minutes of napping, we enter something called slow-wave sleep. If you break the wave mid-way through, it will take a while for you to accurately perceive time again, which is precisely why they call it a 20 minute power nap.