The Health Benefits of Dry January

Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol, has become an annual tradition for many people. For some, it’s part of a New Year’s resolution to drink less or create healthier habits, while others claim it’s a way to “detox” from excessive drinking over the holidays.

Here, Spärkel shares some of the health benefits of breaking your booze habit.

First, What Is Dry January?

It’s pretty straightforward – steer clear of alcohol for the entire 31 days of January.

Dry January originated in the UK in 2013, when a non-profit group called Alcohol Change UK started the movement with the goal of raising money for alcohol abuse awareness and treatment. The trend caught on, and now people around the globe choose to partake as a way to create new habits, reduce alcohol consumption or reset after a month or two of holiday indulgence.

What Are the Health Benefits of Dry January?

1. You’ll Sleep Better and Have More Energy

People often credit alcohol with helping them sleep. However, a review of studies found that while alcohol may help people fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply during the initial stages of sleep, it is likely to disrupt sleep later in the night. Alcohol actually degrades sleep quality and drinking moderate or high amounts of alcohol decreases “restorative” REM sleep. Practicing a sober month will actually help you sleep and have you feeling more restful and energized in the mornings.

2. You Will Save Money

This one is a no-brainer. One of the biggest advantages of Dry January might be the positive impact on your bank account. One study found that 88% of those who participated in Dry January reported saving money as a result. Spending $10-$15 on the regular for fancy cocktails or a glass of wine adds up quickly. Without the booze tab, your dinner check becomes more affordable. If you want to keep things fun, simply swap your usual cocktail with a sparkling water or fizzy mocktail. For some fun at-home recipe ideas, like a Fizzy Elderberry Soda, check out Spärkel’s blog For Recipes!

3. Your Skin Might Look Brighter

Alcohol is diuretic, which means it causes you to pee more than water. As a result, it’s harder for the body to hydrate itself. Lack of hydration can take a serious toll on your skin causing dryness and a dull appearance. Plus, the high levels of salt and sugar content in alcoholic beverages may trigger breakouts. Ditching alcohol and increasing your water intake is a win-win for your hydration status and can leave your skin feeling healthier and looking more glowy.

4. If Weight Loss in One of Your Goals, Cutting Booze Could Help

Losing a few pounds when you take a break from alcohol is fairly common. Boozy beverages don’t just add calories, they add liquid calories, which research shows don’t fill you up the way food calories do. When you cut out drinking, you often replace it with a much lower calorie option, like sparkling water, which can lead to weight loss. Also, ditching alcohol can help you cut down on some of the mindless overeating that inevitably happens when drinking.

5. You May Feel Less Anxious

You may think that a glass of wine calms your nerves and washes all of your worries away at the end of a long day. At first it might, but it can also lead to a post-drinking spike in anxiety known as “hang-xiety”, or anxious feelings that are experienced as part of a hangover. If you stay away from alcohol for a month, you’ll be both hangover and hang-xiety free, resulting in more peaceful nights and less anxious mornings.

6. Your Overall Health Will Improve

It’s not news to anyone that excessive drinking can lead to several negative health effects, including a weakened immune system, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can also impair your sleeping patterns and increase the risk for diseases like breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and liver problems. You can learn more about negative short and long-term health effects of drinking too much alcohol at the NIAAA.

7. Dry January Helps You Drink Less the Rest of the Year

Once Dry January is over, you might just reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. While drinking in moderation isn’t all bad — in fact, it’s associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and death — taking a month off may help you drink less throughout the rest of the year. In fact, a 2016 study of adults who participated in Dry January found that up to six months later, they were drinking on fewer occasions and consumed less when they did drink.

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