We’ve all been there. One minute you’re enjoying a few drinks with your friends and next, you’re laid up in bed with a hangover from hell, regretting having that last drink (or two!).
Hangovers are common, but just how costly are they? We’ve calculated the estimated cost of a hangover, based on everything from your spending the night before to the cost of your ‘hangover cures’ the following day. We’ve even looked at how much time you stand to lose after your night of excess.
The results may surprise you…
Hangovers cost Brits £2,399 per year on average
According to our calculations, hangovers could be costing Brits £2,399 per year without them even realising!
This total is based on the average Briton being hungover twice per month (24 times per year in total). We’ve calculated it using their average spend on a night out, as well as what they may fork out for the following day. We’ve broken down the costs in the table below:
Even if you’re only hungover once per month, that still racks up a whopping £1,199.64 per year on average!
25-34-year-olds spend the most on hangovers per year
Total spend varies across age groups, with 25-34-year-olds spending the most overall on being hungover. At £2,526.72 per year, that’s £127.44 above average.
We asked Lucy and Sam, both 28, about whether they think their hangovers have got worse as they’ve got older:
“I used to go out three times per week when I was younger. I’d have a bottle of wine before I went out, before drinking spirits while I was out. I can’t remember my hangovers ever being as bad as they are now I’m 28.
“I’d be able to function normally the next day, going to college or out for lunch. Nowadays, if I have more than three pints, the next day is totally written off with a hangover.”
Lucy echoes these thoughts: “My hangovers are absolutely worse now compared with when I was younger! I used to be able to do a 10-hour shift on 3 hours' sleep after a night out, but no way could I do that now.
“Nowadays, I can feel the effects the next day after just two glasses of wine. I also drink alcohol with a lower percentage now than when I was younger - wine over spirits - but my hangovers are worse. However, I do drink less overall now, so it's likely my tolerance that's gone down quite a lot.
”The recovery process takes a good two-thirds of my day these days.”
Brits spend £766.56 on hangover cures and next-day transport per year
Excluding the cost of the night out, Brits spend £31.94 on curing their hangover the next day. Based on being hungover twice per month, this works out at £63.88 per month or £766.56 per year!
The cost is based on spending 29p on paracetamol to ease a pounding headache, £9.70 on a taxi to get home from a friend’s house or to pick up your car from wherever you left it, and £21.95 on a takeaway to help you feel human again.
Even if you’re only hungover once per month, this figure still works out at £383.28 per year!
Every night out sacrifices over 5 hours of sleep and relaxation!
According to a 2019 study, both time to go to bed and the amount of sleep we get are affected by drinking alcohol - to the tune of 5.1 hours per night out!
As Mattress Online CEO, Steve Adams explains, “Shortening the amount of sleep we’re getting to just 5 hours disrupts our sleep cycle, which contributes to making even simple tasks feel more difficult the next day.
“There are four sleep stages in our sleep cycle: Stages 1-3 are non-rapid eye movement, while stage 4 is REM sleep, which supports our cognitive functions such as problem-solving and memory consolidation.
“Each stage lasts around 90 minutes. By only getting 5 hours of sleep, you’re essentially limiting the time you have for crucial REM sleep. In fact, this is one of the reasons why people struggle to remember their night after having a drink.
“While an occasional night out won’t impact your sleep too severely in the long term, you may feel like you need to catch up on your lost sleep. However, it’s important to try and stick to your usual sleep and wake up schedule, as this will make returning to routine easier.”
Brits lounge for almost 2 hours longer when they’re hungover
If you’ve made plans for the day after your night out, cancel them! The study looked at the activity of participants the day after drinking alcohol, and we’re a lot more lethargic than usual.
After drinking alcohol the night before, Brits spent 14.9 hours on sedentary or light activities. This was almost 2 hours more than the time spent on the control day, which stood at 13 hours.
We lose just over a week to hangovers per year!
So how much time is ‘lost’ to hangovers over the year? According to our calculations, Brits lose 7 hours to lethargy and lost sleep per hangover.
Assuming two hangovers per month, this totals 168.4 hours over a year – that’s just over 7 days! Even if you’re hungover once per month instead, you still stand to lose 3.5 days in a typical year.
How does alcohol impact your sleep
Why does drinking alcohol impact your sleep so much? We spoke to Lisa Artis, Deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity, who explained all:
“Alcohol interferes with the chemical processes your body needs to sleep soundly. Most notably, alcohol prevents you from reaching REM sleep early on, so your body plays catch-up later in the night.
“Not only that, but alcohol stops the brain from releasing vasopressin, a chemical that regulates the amount of water in your body. This means you may wake up more often during the night to use the toilet. As more water is flushed out of your body, you could feel more dehydrated the next day.”
Expert reveals tips for sleeping well after a night out
So, is there any way of enjoying a night out without sacrificing your sleep? The Sleep Charity’s Lisa Artis reveals her top tips for getting the rest you need after drinking alcohol, and our very own Steve Adams explains why lie-ins aren’t always the answer.
1. Stop drinking 2 hours before bedtime
“If you are having a drink with friends, consider what time you’ll likely be heading home and plan to have your last drink roughly 2 hours before bed.
“Drinking even a little alcohol before you go to bed can impact your sleep, so be mindful to reducethe impact that alcohol has on your sleep.”
2. Avoid caffeine-rich drinks
“Just like you wouldn’t have a coffee before you try to sleep, you should also be cautious of drinking caffeinated drinks before you head home.
“Obvious culprits to avoid are Jager bombs, with their heavily caffeinated energy drink mixer, and cocktails like espresso martinis. Also be aware of drinks that you may not realise contain caffeine, such as alcopops, for example.”
3. Resist the lure of the takeaway
“Many people think that eating after a night on the town will ‘soak up the alcohol’. However, in doing so, you could be disrupting your sleep. Eating too close to bedtime signals to your brain that you’re awake, which may make it harder to fall asleep, especially as your body will be busy digesting your food.
“Spicy or acidic foods can cause heartburn, which can be even more common after drinking alcohol. If you do want to have something to eat, choose a small evening snack over a full meal.”
4. Go to the loo before bed
“It seems an obvious one but often it’s tempting to get home and crawl straight into bed. Alcohol increases your need to go to the toilet more, so going before you get into bed can reduce the chances of having your sleep disrupted by needing the loo.”
5. Stick to your usual sleep routine following a night out
Steve Adams from Mattress Online offers: “As tempting as it is to try and make up for the sleep you’ve lost to a hangover, it’s actually more beneficial to stick to your usual sleep and morning wake-up routine. Having a long lie-in, for example, disrupts your sleep pattern and makes it harder to get up for work on Monday. And you’ll feel more lethargic throughout the day as a result.”
Being more mindful about what you’re eating and drinking before bed will help you get a better rest after a night out. It may not prevent your hangover entirely, but it should mean you feel less lethargic the next day.
Average prices for a night out, including pre-drinks, food, transport, entry fee and drinks in the venue, are from REKOM UK’s Late Night Index April 2022. Costs are based on a Censuswide survey of 2,358 adults.
For the Hangover Day figures, the following data was used:
- Painkiller price - based on the price of a packet of paracetamol from Tesco.
- Taxi price - based on the price of an average taxi journey (5.4 miles), charged at £1.24 per km with a £3 starting charge according to Numbeo data.
- Takeaway price - based on the average order value of orders made on Just Eat.
We’ve calculated the cost of a hangover based on one and two hangovers per month over the course of a year.
We calculated the time lost based on the findings from a 2019 study titled Sleep after Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Physical Activity Levels during Alcohol Hangover.