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The Effects of Thanksgiving Week

November 29, 2017

Last week, in our efforts to challenge people to #ThriveTheHolidays this season, we announced the creation of Team Thrive. WHOOP users who join Team Thrive have the opportunity to view and compare each other’s Strain, Sleep and Recovery data as they aim to stay motivated and inspired. We’re hoping a sense of unity and accountability will enable team members to better optimize their performance during a time of year when it can be difficult to do so.

Team Thrive also has another function as well. We’ll be examining the data from it in an attempt to learn more about about how the holidays affect us. In addition, we’ll be sharing success stories from team members in their efforts to thrive (and a few entertaining failures too).

Today, we take a look at how Team Thrive handled the long Thanksgiving weekend.

As a baseline, we determined the average daily WHOOP statistics of Team Thrive members over the past six months–58% Recovery, 11.7 Strain and 6:51 of Sleep that equates to a 79% Sleep Performance (percentage of recommended nightly sleep need). We observed each of the following over the holiday week:

  • Lower Recovery averages beginning the day before Thanksgiving
  • Above average Strain on Thanksgiving Day
  • Increased Sleep after the holiday, but no corresponding boost in Recovery


Sleep and Recovery

In 2016, WHOOP users slept an average of 3.5% less during the week of Thanksgiving. This year, Team Thrive managed to avoid the same pitfall, actually sleeping four minutes more on average (6:55 per night from Monday, 11/20 through Sunday, 11/26). However, there were still clear signs of the holiday taking its toll.

On Tuesday, 11/21, the average Team Thrive Recovery was 62%, the high for the week. For many of us, Tuesday is the last day of Thanksgiving week that regular routines still apply.

The Team’s average Recovery dipped significantly on Wednesday, falling to 54%. The day before Thanksgiving is widely known as one of the busiest travel days of the year, could early-morning travel be the culprit?

We suspected Recoveries might drop on Thanksgiving Day as well, with the night prior generally considered to be a big evening out. Although still below the 58% norm, the average Recovery for Team Thrive rose slightly to 56% on Thursday. From there, it settled in the mid 50s for the rest of the week:

For the majority of the holiday week, Team Thrive members were less Recovered than they usually are. The subpar Recovery from Wednesday through Sunday is particularly interesting when compared to the team’s average Sleep Performance (see above). While Recovery stayed consistently below average, Sleep Performance improved throughout the week and was higher than the normal 79% on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We know alcohol consumption can impact Recovery for up to four days, so it’s quite possible team members’ drinking on Wednesday and Thursday affected them for the remainder of the week–one potential explanation for the stagnating Recovery despite the improved Sleep Performance.



Saturday is typically the highest-Strain day for WHOOP users and that held true for Team Thrive over Thanksgiving week. But, just behind the 12.2 average Day Strain on Saturday was a 12.1 on Thursday:

Whether it was morning Turkey Trots, backyard football, or simply the stress of family gatherings, Thanksgiving Day was more strenuous than usual for Team Thrive. In response to the added Strain (or maybe just the Tryptophan?), the team slept an average of 7:21 that night, half an hour longer than normal (6:51).

Stay tuned for more on what team members have to say about their Sleep, Strain and Recovery, plus a deeper dive into the science behind thriving the holidays.


If you’re on WHOOP and would like to be part of Team Thrive, click here for an invitation. We want to hear from current team members too! Email with your Thrive stories (good and bad!) and make sure to check out @whoop on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for updates.


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