Dry January is full of amazing benefits from your physical and mental health to your wallet. Cutting out alcohol can help you drink less in the future, improve your mood, and fight off illness. Try out the sober life for a month and you might experience some of these amazing benefits:
Long-term drinking decreases.
Taking just one month off of alcohol can help you drink less long term. A study completed by the University of Sussex found that Dry January participants were still drinking less over 6 months later. The survey of 800 participants showed drinking days on average fell from 4.3 to 3.3 per week.
Even one extra day each week without alcohol can improve your health. A study published by Alcoholism: Experimental and Clinical Research reported that drinking four or more days each week can negatively affect your health and might cause early death. During the research, people who drank four or more days a week were 20% more likely to die in the study period.
When we sleep, we experience two stages of rest: REM sleep, and non-REM, or slow-wave sleep. Researchers believe that our body restores cells and hormones, and reduces toxins during REM sleep, so it’s important that we get that quality time in!
Alcohol affects the central nervous system, so it can have a drastic impact on our REM cycle. When you drink, you may fall asleep faster, because alcohol acts as a sedative. If you drink heavily, you can develop a tolerance to the sedative effects of alcohol.
If you drink often or binge drink, alcohol may reduce the time you spend in REM sleep. Studies have shown that the amount we drink is directly related to the time spent in REM sleep, so the more you drink, the less restful your sleep will be.
Dry January is a great time to get quality sleep when you are not drinking. After a few weeks without alcohol, you may feel more rested and find more energy during the day. If you have a New Year’s Resolution like going to the gym or starting a new hobby, Dry January is the perfect way to prepare yourself for high-energy activities.
Immune health is boosted
These days, having a healthy immune system is more important than ever! Our immune system has two major functions: fighting off new viruses and bacteria, and remembering old infections to fight them again.
When we are injured, or have an infection, the immune system first fights the injury with inflammation. Heavy drinking can cause a disruption in the inflammatory response, causing a delayed reaction or even stopping vital inflammation from occurring. This results in a lowered immunity and increase in the rate of viral and bacterial infections.
Cutting out alcohol allows the immune system to respond to illness properly, meaning your immunity and injury response may improve. You might find your body fighting off colds faster or having a reduced reaction to serious infections.
Better skin health
When you stop drinking, your skin will feel more hydrated and be less likely to break out with acne.
Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, resulting in a byproduct called acetaldehyde, which is toxic to body tissues. Acetaldehyde causes dehydration in these tissues and in the skin, leading to wrinkles and premature skin aging.
Alcohol can also increase breakouts, especially after binge drinking. Booze can dilate pores and cause inflammation in the skin, leading to blackheads, whiteheads, and overall redness.
Participating in Dry January can help your skin heal, and you may see brighter skin, less wrinkles, and a clearer complexion.
There’s nothing worse than waking up with a headache, fatigue, and nausea, right? Skip the hangovers during Dry January and wake up feeling well rested.
Hangovers are caused by excessive alcohol use, but for some, just one drink can trigger a hangover! In addition to the usual symptoms, heavy alcohol use can also lead to an inability to concentrate, deficits in memory, decreased appetite, and loss of interest in typical activities.
Dry January is a great month to reset and focus on improving your health. When you wake up without a hangover on the weekends, you might be surprised at how energetic and well-rested you feel! Spending weekends doing meaningful activities like hanging out with friends, pursuing a new hobby, or exercising instead of laying in bed with a hangover can improve your life in many ways.
Mood is improved
During Dry January, you might feel happier and less anxious - there’s a scientific explanation why!
Alcohol is a depressant and affects the neurotransmitters in your brain that control your mood and emotions. After one or two drinks, this might feel like reduced stress or more confidence. However, after these effects wear off, alcohol can cause increased anger, depression, and stress. Hangxiety is real!
Alcohol can also inhibit processing in your brain, meaning you might have a harder time understanding what you are feeling. This can cause poor decision making or heightened emotions that you would not experience while sober.
Lowering your alcohol intake during Dry January can reduce stress and improve emotional stability, meaning a happier month overall.
Less bloating and less empty calories
Alcohol can cause puffiness, bloating, and weight gain due to several factors. First, booze is inflammatory, which can appear as a puffy face or swollen midsection. Alcohol irritates the digestive system, causing bloating in the stomach and intestines. This is especially true for high-sugar drinks and carbonated drinks, that add extra irritation to the body.
Alcohol is also calorie-dense without providing any nutritional benefits. Most liquors contain 100 or more calories per shot, and drinks like wine and beer have upwards of 150 calories per drink. When you stop drinking, these calories typically aren’t replaced with anything, which means you might lose some weight during Dry January. If you’re looking to lose the stubborn beer belly, skipping the booze is the best way to do it.
You save money
How much money do you spend on alcohol each month? Going out to a bar, you might be paying $10 for one drink - that can really add up. Whether you only buy one bottle of wine each month or you spend a couple hundred dollars on drinks, Dry January will help you save some cash.
Spend that money you saved up on something fun, like alcohol-free drinks with adaptogens. Having a mocktail or a drink that you can turn to when your friends are drinking is a great way to stay on track during Dry January.
Blood pressure spikes are avoided
Alcohol processing and blood pressure are directly related in your body. When you drink booze, your blood pressure will spike temporarily. When the alcohol is fully processed by your body, your blood pressure will return to normal.
This can become an issue if alcohol is consumed in excess, and blood pressure spikes frequently. Long-term heavy alcohol use can lead to hypertension, or high blood pressure. Hypertension can cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, vision problems, chest pains, and irregular heartbeats.
Do your body a favor and join Dry January to prevent these symptoms! If you are a frequent drinker, Dry January is a great way to reset your system and allow your body to heal. Maintaining a normal, regular blood pressure is the best way to avoid hypertension.
Reduced risk of cancer
Did you know alcohol is linked to an increased risk of cancer? Booze increases the risk for oral, esophageal, colorectal, liver, and breast cancers, among others.
This risk is caused by a few factors. One way alcohol increases the likelihood of cancer is through its interference with hormone production. Booze can disrupt the body’s hormone management; hormones are essential for natural cancer prevention. Our hormones affect how our cells grow and divide, when they are out of balance, cancer cells have the opportunity to multiply.
While cutting out booze cannot prevent all cancers, studies have shown that drinking less reduces our risk of certain types of cancer. If you want to help your body prevent cancer, Dry January is a great way to test out a sober lifestyle and adopt healthier habits.
Dry January is a great time to reset your body and your mind for a healthier year. Drinking less can lead to more than just less hangovers, it can fight cancer and lower stress. You might feel so good by February that you never go back to booze!