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08th Apr 2022

Here’s why it feels like time travels faster when you drink alcohol

Kieran Galpin

It’s like Doctor Who… if he used vodka instead of a spaceship

We’ve all been there: needing to sit down on a gum-covered curb while people throw-up in the distance and the smell of hot kebabs floats through the air as you suddenly realise the world seems to be moving at 1,000 miles an hour – all thanks to booze.

As it turns out, we don’t become the Flash when we’ve had one too many. In fact, good old science has done the legwork and explained exactly why the world seems to be moving at such a rapid pace whenever we’re a little (read: a lot) tipsy.

Via Unsplash

Liverpool John Moores University lecturers Ruth Ogden and Catharine Montgomery suggest that the reason might be because alcohol can affect the way our brain monitors time, changing the speed of our “internal clock.”

They also proposed the idea that the activities we engage in whilst drunk could help distract us from looking at ticking clocks – hence making time feel like it’s moving quicker.

To find out whether this was the case, the pair conducted a study that tried to find out whether time still “flew” when participants weren’t doing things usually associated with alcohol consumption.

Speaking to The Psychologist in 2012, they explained that participants were asked to complete a word classification task, and afterwards, asked how long the task lasted. They were also quizzed on whether they felt time passed the same as normal, faster than normal, or slower.

Next, those in the study were asked to guess the length of short audible tones.

Via Unsplash

They found that their participants’ ability to work out the duration of the word-classification task was unaffected by alcohol consumption – however, a higher dose of booze did result in participants reporting that time flew by quicker.

The study ultimately suggests that alcohol alone is enough to change our perception of time, and actually, social activity has nothing to do with it.

So basically, next time the day seems never-ending, get yourself to the pub or better yet, a bottomless brunch.

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