Why does vaping herbs appear to slow down time?
The most common effects of using a dry herb vaporizer include feelings of euphoria, relaxation and of course, the munchies. However, one topic that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the perception of time.. Slowing... Down….. to…... A….... Crawl!
According to Wikipedia, time is the “continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future”. Whilst our everyday human experience suggests that time moves forward methodically and linearly, many argue that time is just an artificial human construct. Further to moving forward, some believe it can also expand, contract and loop back around.
However, one thing I'm sure we all agree on is that time is relative. Over the weekend I was babysitting my little cousin. Due to some bad behaviour, I put him on a 5 minute time out. The five-minute punishment felt like an entire lifetime for him - for me, it felt like the peace and quiet was over in a flash!
When I'm vaping dry herbs (and not babysitting!) the opposite is true; time seems to move very slowly as my imagination races and thoughts swirl around in my mind.
So, what does Science say?
Rather surprisingly, there has been considerable scientific research into cannabis and its effect on the human perception of space and time.
One study, in particular, carried out by Yale University provided conclusive evidence that time does actually slow down when under the influence.
In this study, 44 participants were asked to complete two time estimation exams before and after a dose of THC, one of the main compounds in the Cannabis Sativa plant.
In the first test, each participant was tasked with estimating how much time had passed whilst focusing on a menial job to prevent them from counting.
In the second test, whilst being distracted, participants were required to hold down a computer key for a set period of time.
Across the board, the results proved unequivocally that participants who had used cannabis were likely to overestimate how much time had passed. On average, those who had a dose of THC overestimated the time passed by 25% whilst those who had taken the placebo did not experience any time inflation.
But why does time appear to slow down?
Whilst the study carried out by Yale demonstrates that herbs do indeed cause users to inflate a period of time, it does not explain why.
Until further research is undertaken, no one will know for sure however there are a few theories :
It may be biological
Scientists have found a part of circuitry in the brain called the Thalamo-cortical-striatal that is believed to be an integral cog in how humans perceive time. This part of the brain was also shown to contain many cannabinoid receptors which means it is very likely to react when exposed to cannabis compounds.
It may be all in the mind
Can you believe it is almost Spring already? Compare the last six weeks of your life to how long summer holidays would stretch on for when you were a child.
There is a school of thought that argues perceived time is related to the number of new stimuli exposed to the brain. When you’re a child, you’re far more attentive to new experiences. As we get older, we fall into a routine, have less new thoughts and as a result, time appears to speed up.
When vaping dry herbs, your mind will hyperfocus on different sensations and thoughts. Quite often, we can also become quite insular and forget about what is going on around us. As we become lost in our deepest thoughts, what feels like minutes in our heads can sometimes just be is actually seconds in the real world!
Are there any real-life implications?
Everything in our lives is anchored to the seconds, minutes or hours of clocks that move forward methodically and linearly. We use these measurements all time without knowing - for example estimating the speed on an oncoming car when crossing the road. Therefore, it is worth considering the effects of time inflation when driving or operating heavy machinery.
To be honest, I have no clue how time works but I think we can at least be sure our time here will reach an inevitable end.
These days, I feel in our busy lives we are too often encouraged to rush around and never stop to think. Vaping gives me time to slow down and think.
If dry herbs can slow down our perception of one hour and in that hour we better connect with loved one, enhance our creativity or better enjoy the nuances of a meal, then herbs truly are a gift!