20 Science-Backed Facts That Will Make You Totally Psyched to Turn 40
You'll have more confidence, more money, and more happiness.
You can look at it as just another day on the calendar, or as the date that marks the start of your best decade yet—either way, seeing 40 flickering candles on a birthday cake is enough to give even the most reasonable person at least a little bit of anxiety. But the reality is that there's so much about turning 40 that you can look forward to with excitement, not dread. Ready to get amped up about the big 4-0? Read on to discover 20 facts backed by science and surveys that will ensure you're ready to tackle your fourth decade with aplomb.
You have more confidence.
Just because you're not as young as you once were doesn't mean you should feel any less confident. And in your 40s, it's statistically proven that you likely won't. According to 2019 research conducted by Harvard University, our levels of confidence begin to approach their peak after turning 40.
Your brain is fully developed.
While we often hear that 26 is the magic age at which our brains finally decide to grow up once and for all, a new study says otherwise. According to researchers at University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, the brain's prefrontal cortex continues to evolve well into our 40s, meaning you can finally enjoy the full benefit of all that learning you've been doing for the past four decades.
You have better focus and concentration.
Another nice thing about your 40s is that you may find an increased ability to stay focused and concentrate better than you could in decades prior. In fact, your attention span will reach its peak around age 43, according to 2015 research published in the journal Psychological Science.
Your creativity still has time to peak.
If you haven't reached a point of feeling accomplished in your creative endeavors by the time you reach your 40s, that doesn't mean you never will. In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal De Economist found that creativity can peak in your mid-50s. Late bloomers are a real thing! Case in point: Martha Stewart, Octavia Spencer, Ricky Gervais, and Samuel L. Jackson all got their big breaks over the age of 40.
You're more emotionally intelligent.
Some things do get better with age—your emotional intelligence included. According to a 2015 study published in Psychological Science, the ability to identify and understand other people's emotions is a cognitive skill that doesn't typically peak until you reach your 40s.
According to 2018 data from the U.S. Department of Justice, your risk of being the victim of a violent crime is highest between the ages of 18 and 24, and steadily declines from your late 30s on.
You'll likely own a home.
Whether it's your first foray into residential real estate or you're already a homeowner, it's not unlikely that you'll purchase a place to call home (maybe even that dream house you've always wanted) at some point in your 40s. In a Nov. 2019 report, the National Association of Realtors determined that the median age of all home buyers in the U.S. is 47.
You're more well-read.
Becoming the most interesting person at a cocktail party may be as simple as reading more books, which you tend to start doing in your 40s. According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men and women in their 40s and 50s spend more time on an average day reading for pleasure than those younger than them. And that interest in reading only continues to grow thereafter!
And you're more well-spoken.
And with that increased interest in reading comes a more expansive personal lexicon. A 2015 study from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that a person's vocabulary continues to get better through their 40s, eventually peaking more than two decades later.
And you're more well-educated.
Not only is your brain likely to be sharper in your 40s than in the four decades prior, you're also more likely to have some serious academic achievements under your belt. According to U.S. Census data released in 2016, more than 13 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 44, and more than 12 percent of people between 45 and 64, have an advanced degree—the two highest percentages of all applicable age groups.
You save more.
Though you might have some big financial commitments if you have a mortgage, pets, or a family, your earnings during your 40s will be far greater than your expenditures. According to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people between the ages of 35 and 54 have the greatest difference between their income and expenditures (the former outpacing the latter), meaning the average individual during these two decades could reasonably pocket around $19,000 per year.
Your net worth has grown larger.
Nights of eating ramen and drinking cheap beer are things of the past by the time 40 rolls around. In fact, 2016 data from the Federal Reserve found that the median net worth of adults between the ages of 45 and 54 is nearly $130,000. And that figure continues to increase with age, so it's only up from here!
You spend less time on social media.
Not only do 40-somethings tend to use fewer social media platforms in total than their younger counterparts, according to 2018 data from Pew Research Center, but 56 percent of users aged 30 to 49 also said that it wouldn't be hard to give up social media for good. And considering all the negative effects screen time has on your health, you're definitely better off sans-phone in your 40s.
You have less acne.
While you may have struggled with breakouts throughout your teens and 20s, your 40s may finally provide you with the respite you've been seeking. According to research out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine in 2008, only about 3 percent of men and 5 percent of women in their 40s suffer from clinical acne.
You have better work-life balance.
Figuring out how much time to devote to your desk and how much time to spend enjoying the other parts of your life is never easy. That said, 40-somethings seem to have a more steady handle on work-life balance than younger professionals. According to a 2017 YouGov poll, 57 percent of professionals between the ages of 34 and 44 feel happy with how they balance life in and out of the office, an 8-percent increase compared with 25 to 34-year-old workers who felt the same way.
You need less sleep.
If you've ever wished you could sleep less and still wake up feeling refreshed, you're in luck. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Sleep, adults between ages 40 and 55, on average, sleep about 23.6 minutes less than those in their 20s and 30s.
You're likely to be happily married.
There's something to be said for finding the love of your life at 18, but waiting may actually provide the key to greater happiness. Studies suggest that individuals who marry later than average tend to enjoy greater relationship satisfaction in the long run.
For example, researchers at the University of Alberta in 2017 surveyed 405 Canadians at the end of high school and again at 43 year old. What they found was that that those who married later were able to acquire more education and higher-paying jobs, two indicators for greater long-term marital success. "We didn't find that marrying late was negative in terms of future subjective well-being," family ecology researcher Matt Johnson said in a statement. "In fact, marrying late was better compared to marrying early."
Women who have children when they're older tend to live longer.
Think having kids is off-limits because you're nearing middle age? Think again. Research published in the journal Menopausein 2015 revealed that women who had children at 33 or after had double the odds of living to 95 than those who had their last kid by 29.
Women reach their peak earnings potential.
If you're a woman in the workplace, your 40s are the time when you are likely to start making the most money in your career, which is certainly something to put in the pro column of turning 40. In fact, according to 2019 data from PayScale, on average, women hit their peak earnings at age 44. (Men on the other hand, don't do so until a bit later, at age 55.)
And they find sex more enjoyable, too.
While you may have heard that your interest in sex decreases as you age, that's not necessarily true, at least for women it isn't. According to a 2016 study from the University of Pittsburgh, women around age 45 revealed that increased confidence and fewer concerns related to day-to-day family life made their sex lives more enjoyable.