Many of you are going to drink to excess tonight, and your search engine knows it. Not because of what you're searching for today -- nobody types "I'm gonna get so drunk tonight lol" into Google -- but because of what you'll be searching for tomorrow. Specifically, relief from your soul-crushing hangover.
Google searches for "hangover cure" spike by an insane amount on New Year's day. Below, I've charted daily Google Trends numbers for the term from July of 2013 to June of 2014. Anything stand out?
Relative to other searches, interest in "hangover cure" is nearly 10 times higher than average on New Year's day. The reason? Everyone's out partying on New Year's Eve. No other day in the calendar year comes close. The next-most hungover days of 2014 were the Saturday after Halloween, followed by a seemingly arbitrary Sunday in May, and then by the 5th of July.
- Wednesday, Jan. 1
- Saturday, Nov. 1
- Sunday, May 18
- Saturday, July 5
- Sunday, Feb. 23
- Sunday, Sept. 28
- Sunday, Oct. 26
- Sunday, July 20
- Sunday, Sept. 14
- Sunday, March 16
Those jagged peaks and valleys throughout the year represent the weekly ebb and flow of hangover searches -- more prevalent on the weekends, much less so on weekdays. As I noted earlier, on a per-day basis Sunday is the King of Hangovers, followed by Saturday and then Monday. If these numbers are correct, it means that people are more likely to drink heavily on Sunday than on Thursday, which is surprising to me, but this may say more about my own drinking habits than those of the average American.
If you look closely at the first chart you'll see that the jagged weekly rhythm gets interrupted somewhat near the end of December -- during the holidays, people are more likely to be at home drinking regardless of the day of the week, so the daily searches for hangover relief are more stable. It's surprisingly difficult to find reliable data on alcohol consumption by month of the year, but the data that is out there generally comport with what Google is telling us. For instance, we know that beer, wine and liquor stores do more business in December than in any other month.
So, as you're desperately Googling ways to get rid of your mind-splitting headache tomorrow morning, wallowing in regret, vowing to do better next year even though you know it's a lie, chin up! You've got a lot of company.