Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Why does time seem to go slower when we're bored? © Getty Images

Why does time seem to go slower when we're bored?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Time flies when you're having fun, but on the other hand...

Asked by: Chris Moore, Andover


Although we feel sluggish and tired when we’re bored, at a physiological level it’s actually a ‘high arousal’ state (as measured by a faster heart rate). In turn, it’s well-established that greater arousal speeds up our brain’s ‘internal clock’, so that we feel that more time has passed than actually has. Another theory is that the apparent slowing down of time is a kind of signal our brain sends to itself to convey that the current situation is unfulfilling and we should do something else.

Why do we get bored? © iStock


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.


Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.


Sponsored content