Why Time Flies Faster as You Age

A man and young girl smiling and sitting on a porch
Ippei Naoi/Getty Images

You’re not alone if it feels like the years are zipping by: time does seem to pass by more quickly as you get older. The phenomenon is rooted in the way memories are formed, say psychologists who’ve explored the perception of time and how it shifts with age.

Think about it: Your best recollections are likely tied to things that were once new, exciting and emotion-evoking — the stuff of childhood (first day of school, first crush, first dip in the ocean) and branching out as a young adult (new career, new home, new family).

To learn more, check out this article on Staying Sharp: Keep a Gratitude Journal

Your brain is hard-wired to imprint those novel events.

Middle-age life, on the other hand, is grounded in routine. Those routines may be enjoyable — a weekly lunch with friends, or a standing date night with your partner — but they’re familiar.

From your brain’s point of view, it doesn’t see a need to make room to store snapshots of such everyday occasions. And when nothing stands out as special, time appears to go by more quickly.

There may be a fairly easy way to slow it back down, however: Do something different. Create new and exciting experiences that will force your brain to make some room in the memory bank.

To learn more about why perceptions shift when more experiences become routine, read Why Time Seems to Speed Up as We Age

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

Search AARP Blogs