timerDo you think you’re pretty good at figuring out how much time has passed?

For instance, when you brew a cup of tea and don’t use a timer, do you think you know when three or four minutes is up and it’s time to take the teabag out of the water? Or when a waiter says he’ll be back with your drinks in one minute, do you think you can tell when that minute has gone by?

After hearing the results of this 2005 study in the journal Physiology & Behavior, you may rethink your answer.

In this small study of 14 women, researchers discovered that, when thinking in terms of short intervals of time–one minute, two minutes, etc.–in general, we perceive time as going by a bit slower than it really is.

However, during the second half of our cycle–Week 3 and Week 4–your perception of short intervals of time speeds up (though generally still not as fast as it really is) due to progesterone raising your core body temperature, which triggers changes in areas of the brain responsible for time perception.

The same time-bending effect happens when you have a fever at any point in your cycle.

And, interestingly, it also occurs when you’re in bright light.

What’s this mean for you? Ultimately, you’re probably not as great at judging how much time is passing as you may believe.

So, if you’ve got to time your tea, get to an appointment or meet a rush deadline, you may want to keep an eye on the clock or use a timer rather than guesstimate.

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