Most People Are Familiar With Its Time-Altering Effects, But Why Does Cannabis Seem To Slow Time Down?
Most cannabis consumers have experienced the slowing of time while high. Many users report the feeling of time slowing down where minutes can feel like hours. It’s the reason for that stereotypical spaced out and confused behavior you see in stoners in the movies. The truth is, being on THC keeps you in tune with your thoughts and totally into the moment.
Cannabis affects individuals differently, but for the most part, it does slow down our perception of time as you are paying more close attention to your surroundings. Artists often find this phenomenon the perfect inspiration to make more artwork and feel more creative.
Is Time Perception Affected Less in Heavy Marijuana Consumers?
It’s difficult to say the exact reason why time perception is affected less in heavy cannabis consumers. No amount of research can cover the experience of all cannabis users. Some heavy users still feel the slowing of time each and every time they light up, and some experience it less. Some people enjoy the feeling of time slowing down and living in the moment, and some people get irritated. In some cases, if a frequent cannabis consumer takes a tolerance break, they become more sensitive to the THC when they start to consume again.
Theory: Cannabis Disrupts Circadian Rhythm
Researchers may have figured out one reason why cannabinoids make people feel that time is slowing down; they disrupt the body’s internal clock. Circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. It’s controlled by neurons in a region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN normally uses darkness and light to reset your internal clock. That’s how we explain jet lag, and it’s what is happening to you when you travel a long distance and struggle to adjust to a new time zone.
Researchers discovered that SCN neurons possess receptors for cannabinoids. In the study, researchers housed 42 mice in total darkness for 2 weeks. This was done in order to synchronize their internal clocks. They did this until the animals cycled through active and inactive phases lasting about 12 hours each. Then, researchers shined a light into some of the cages shortly after the mice had entered their active phase. Mice given brain injections of cannabinoids before light exposure exhibited much less of a phase delay than animals not exposed to the light. They became active only 1 hour later than did animals not exposed to light.
The researchers then looked at the SCN cells themselves by adding cannabinoids to mouse SCN cells in a petri dish. The researchers reported that the cells fired about 50% more frequently when exposed to cannabinoids. This increased activity likely disrupts the circadian rhythm in a live mouse.
The Bottom Line
Although it was concluded that time distortion does happen with regular and infrequent cannabis users, the effect of cannabis on time perception still has inconclusive results. There are a few theories on the reason this happens. One of those theories comes down to individual brain chemistry. The surge of THC into the brain causes an increase in the production of neurotransmitters, most notably glutamate. Glutamate is partially responsible for how we perceive time, causing it to feel like it’s moving faster.