The Time Cost of a Hangover
A night of drinking, cavorting, and celebration during a wedding reception feels euphoric in the moment, but soul-crushing the following morning. The inevitable hangover always seems to rear its ugly head after knocking one too many drinks back the previous night. Further, hangovers — complete with headaches, dehydration, and a mountain of regret — tend to worsen with age.
In the thick of wedding season hangovers abound, Shane Co. was curious to see how long (and how intense) hangovers are for Americans across different generations. For that reason, we surveyed 1,000+ people in several age groups, from their 20s to 70s, across the U.S. to determine how many hours their hangovers last, on average.
Our ultimate goal was to determine the time cost of a hangover for each generation, as well as glean supplemental insights around hangover causes and remedies. Additionally, we looked at how hangovers impact things like drinking habits and productivity at work.
Shane Co. surveyed 1,018 people across the U.S. who drink at least one to four pints of alcohol each week, on average. A representative sample was used across age groups: 18-24 years old (Gen Z), 25-40 years old (millennial), 41-56 years old (Gen X), and 57-76 years old (baby boomer). The survey ran from March 23 to 25, 2022. We asked respondents a variety of questions about the average length of their hangovers, types of alcohol that are the biggest culprits, events that cause the worst hangovers, and more.
Each Generation’s Recovery Rate from Hangovers
Between soldiering on through an economic recession, the soaring cost of living, and a global pandemic, millennials can’t catch a break, and hangovers are no exception. A hangover for millennial respondents lasts 7.27 hours on average — 35% longer than their Gen Z counterparts and 20% longer than baby boomers. If you thought the oldest generation would have the longest hangovers, you thought wrong, because millennials are the age group glued to the couch, downing the electrolytes from a liquid I.V. on a Sunday.
Which Spirits Cause the Worst Hangovers?
According to overall responses, tequila causes the most gruesome hangovers. The largest portion of Gen Xers (29%) and baby boomers (30%) say the popular agave liquor is to blame for their raging hangovers, while Gen Zers (30%) say it’s vodka/gin and millennials say it’s brown liquor like whiskey or rum.
When we zoom in on gender differences, the results shift a bit. The largest portion of males (29%) say whiskey/rum causes the worst hangovers, while the largest portion of females (27%) name wine the most hangover-inducing alcohol. We can confirm this is true from personal experience (and science). According to experts, congeners, a “toxic byproduct of the wine fermenting process” are the culprits and the reason why you feel terrible the following morning. Also, dark wines are known to have more congeners, so red wine drinkers, beware.
Hangover Cures 101
For the one in 10 Americans who say they have a hangover once every few weeks, we’ve got the best remedies for you! Respondents say hydrating (29%), sleeping it off (21%), and eating (18%) are the best ways to fight a mean hangover. Only 9% of respondents say caffeine. Coffee may not be your best friend during this time as it can actually slow down rehydration.
Per survey responses, the average American hangover lasts 5.58 hours, and the largest portion of respondents (34%) experiences a hangover every few months. If someone has a hangover every three months, at 5.58 hours per hangover, that translates to 22.32 productive hours lost to a hangover per year, 223 hours lost per decade, and 1,250 hours lost in a lifetime (at the CDC’s average life expectancy of 77 years old). That’s a fair amount of hours down the drain!
Hangovers don’t always occur on the weekend, either. Weeknight happy hours and dinners out can lead to hangovers bleeding into the workday. So how does feeling hungover impact productivity at work? 60% of overall respondents and 72% of Gen Zers specifically admit that a hangover has impacted their workplace productivity. In the same vein, one in every five Americans say they’ve missed at least one important event due to a hangover. Millennials (25%) have missed more important events than any other generation, which makes sense given they have the longest recovery rate.
So which events are the most likely to cause a hangover the following day? The largest portion of respondents (30%) say post-News Year’s Eve hangovers are the most severe, followed by birthday celebrations (23%), weddings (16%), and bachelor(ette) parties (14%). We know all about the debauchery that occurs at events leading up to tying the knot!
Of all generations, Gen Z is the one most likely to have a religious “pre-drinking” routine to avoid hangovers. This generation is savvy about hangover prevention and learned from previous generations’ mistakes. 39% of Gen Zers are doing things like eating high-fiber foods and plenty of antioxidants as well as chugging multiple bottles of water before a boozy night ensues.
Americans’ Worst Hangover Tales
For a bit of intrigue, we opened up the floor for respondents to tell us their worst hangover tales. Scroll through the carousel below to view the horror stories we found most “cringe-y.”
Other “Boozy” Findings
- One in 10 people (10%) say they experience a hangover every few weeks
- More than one in 10 people (12%) say they don’t get hangovers at all
- 45% of people say their hangovers are worse as they’ve gotten older
- 30% of people have sworn off alcohol multiple times after a bad hangover
- More women (50%) have sworn off alcohol after a bad hangover than men (41%)
And there you have it — American hangovers by the numbers! For the bride and groom, hangovers are especially brutal, but don’t let the fear of one prevent you from celebrating big on the day of your nuptials! Planning on proposing to your favorite drinking partner? Shop Shane Co.’s stunning collection of engagement rings and wedding bands.