Those with short fuses, take notice. A new study suggests that impatient people may be at risk of aging faster than those who are more patient.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore studied 1,158 undergraduate students to determine if there was a link between patience and telomere length. Telomeres are protective caps at the ends of your chromosomes, and function sort of like the caps on the ends of shoe laces. Instead of keeping your laces from fraying, telomeres help protect damage to DNA and your health.
The students were asked a series of hypothetical questions, all involving instant or delayed gratification. They were initially asked if they'd take $100 right away or wait a month to receive $101 -- a relatively small reward. The delay amount got progressively larger, increasing all the way up to $128 if they waited.
The students were rated on their level of impatience depending on just how much extra money it took to motivate them to wait for the payout. Those who were willing to wait for a small reward were rated more patient, but those who needed more to be convinced were considered less patient.
After taking blood samples to analyze the students' telomere length, the researchers noticed a surprising link. People who were considered to be more hasty were more likely to have shorter telomeres than their less hasty counterparts.
“Impatience is linked to cognitive and social incompetence, inability to cope with life frustration and risk of mental disorders," the study's co-author, Xinh Zhang, told The Telegraph. Telomere length has also been linked to life expectancy -- as telomeres become shorter and shorter over time.
“These untoward effects associated with impatience lead us to contend that impatience can lead to shorter telomere. It seems unlikely that a group of healthy individuals in their early 20s are able to ‘sense’ their telomere length is reduced and then make the more impulsive choice," Zhang said.
Researchers admit the findings don't necessarily prove a causal relationship, but a follow-up study is in the works to see if mindfulness exercises can help increase patience and protect telomeres.
Other studies, too, have examined the negative effects of impatience. One study found that it can lead to high blood pressure, which has been known to lead to life-threatening conditions like heart disease. Other studies have shown that impatience can affect more than just your physical health. It also can hurt your financial health by making you more likely to have a lower credit score.
So let's all take a deep breath and stop watching the clock, shall we.
h/t The Telegraph
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