Alcohol consumption was the most tracked behavior last year, beating out the next closest behavior, caffeine, by nearly 1 million entries. While we’ve analyzed how alcohol impacts HRV and Sleep, and how long alcohol consumption can impact your body, until now, we haven’t investigated the relationship between the number of drinks you have and the timing of those drinks with next day metrics.
Alcohol consumption spikes around the holidays, with members reporting alcohol consumption an average of 44.1% days in December. Holidays are – not surprisingly – a time when people imbibe more than normal, likely due to social events, family celebrations, parties and days off of work, and the data proves that. WHOOP data shows an average increase of 46.7% consumption on holidays and eves.
Week to week, WHOOP members report drinking most often on the weekend. Members who regularly track alcohol reported consumption on 59% of Saturdays. Saturdays also result in the highest number of drinks recorded on average, with the typical member reporting 3.6 drinks.
Timing of when you have a drink plays an important role in how recovered you may feel the following day. Alcohol has a half life in the body of between 4 and 5 hours – meaning that it takes your body that amount of time to process out half of the alcohol in the bloodstream. Given the slow processing time, the longer before bed that you stop drinking, the more time you give your body to process the alcohol and reduce any negative repercussions to sleep.
WHOOP data shows that the further from bed members reported drinking alcohol, the higher their recovery. From 9 hours before bed to 4 hours before bed, we see an average recovery drop of just 1% per hour. However, between 4 hours and 1 hour before bedtime, we see an average recovery drop of 3% per hour. The more time you give your body to process alcohol, the better your recovery will be.
Learn More: The Four-Day Hangover
If you’re having drinks, bedtime isn’t the only important factor to consider. The amount you consume matters as well. Typically, your body’s liver is able to process about one standard drink per hour – so every additional drink accumulates alcohol in the body until your system is able to metabolize it.
The WHOOP Journal allows members to input how many drinks they consumed (up to 10). WHOOP data shows that every additional drink plays a critical role in next day recovery in a fairly linear trend. On average, for every drink our members consume:
Alcohol is known as a diuretic, resulting in increased dehydration. How does being more hydrated change how members who drink recover? We analyzed how recovery changes for members who track both drinking and hydration, and determined that hydration may help soothe that next day recovery hangover.
Members who record both being sufficiently hydrated and consuming alcohol wake up the next morning with an average recovery of 55%, while members who consume alcohol – but report not sufficiently hydrating – see a 5% lower average recovery score at only 50%.
Bottom line: if you decide to drink, think about when you’re have your last drink and how much water you have. Your recovery will be all the better for it.