Such a drag: Scientists explain why January feels like the longest month

Saying January is the longest month out loud makes no sense because, in fact, it has 31 days like most months of the year. But many of us feel the same about January, annoyed at least because it seems so long.

Scientists have finally given an explanation as to why January actually feels long.

It’s all in the concept of ‘Time perception’. The concept is a rather tricky one to grasp., however, William Skylark—psychologist and author of Time Perception: The Surprising Effects of Surprising Stimuli—said it best. “Mental time is a pretty fragile metric for the physical duration” which implies that as humans we all experience time differently based on a range of factors affecting it.

So, of course, January feels long, especially after following a packed month like December. December like January has 31 days but it is packed with holidays and events to look forward to so the month runs by quickly. While there is nothing to look forward to in January but work and school.

Someone, please cry me a river!

Dr Zhenguang Cai of the University College of London—who works on Time preceptions—confirms that “starting January after Christmas leads to boredom which leads to the impression that January is slowed down”.

When people say time seems to fly when we’re having fun, the dopamine clock hypothesis is an appropriate explanation. When there is a higher level of dopamine, the neurotransmitters in our brains motivates and rewards us which speeds up our internal clock making time seem to move faster.

Along with our internal clock speeding up things, our collective acknowledgement that January is long makes it feel longer. So it’s safe to say, there is nothing special about January. We’re sorry to break it to you, Capricorns and Aquarians, but January feels like two months in one.