Every year, thousands of people in the UK abstain from alcohol for a month to raise awareness of alcohol dependence and to challenge themselves.
Dry January has grown in recent years, with more and more people avoiding booze during the first month of the year. The initiative has been praised for its health benefits, but is abstaining from alcohol for a month actually good for you?
Pros for your health
We may associate a boozy drink with quickly sending us to sleep, but drinking alcohol before bed actually damages the quality of your sleep. By slipping straight into a deep sleep, you miss out the vital stages of dozing. This can result in lighter, less restorative sleep later in the night.
According to Alcohol Concern, 62% of people had better sleep by cutting out alcohol for a month1, which has lots of health benefits from better memory to a stronger heart. While you may not feel these benefits straight away, it’s likely that you’ll feel more awake and alert during the day.
With more sleep comes more energy, and without the morning-after-booze headache you’re likely to feel much better in yourself. Lots of people find that with this new-found energy they get more done and even use the opportunity to take up more exercise.
Booze is famously high in calories – a glass of wine contains around 160 calories while beer has approximately 208. The figures of people losing weight during dry January are high, with 49% of participants reportedly slimming down by cutting out alcohol for a month1
. People who are overweight can hugely benefit from losing weight by lowering their blood pressure.
A sense of achievement
Simply achieving something you found difficult can help boost your confidence and give you a feeling of success. Whether you do it again the next year, or you try something new, it can be a great benefit for your mental wellbeing.
Change in attitude
Arguably the most important health benefit is a general change in attitude towards alcohol. Simply not having it for a month can make people reconsider their relationship with drink. A study of 857 participants found that 64% drank less alcohol even six months after dry January2. And drinking less alcohol can have great benefits on your health, from a stronger immune system to reduced stress and a healthy, functioning liver.
Some people may find it harder than others, and those who find it particularly difficult may take the time to consider why they rely on alcohol on a regular basis. If this is the case, it may be best to have a free assessment and discuss how you can get extra help cutting down on drink. Find out more about the effects of alcohol on your body and how attitudes towards drinking have changed over recent years.
Cons for your health
Overindulge in February
Some people have a tendency to overindulge even more than they normally would at the end of the month, especially because their tolerance to alcohol is likely to have lowered. This can damage your liver and make you feel even worse than you did at the start of the month.
When January comes to a close, try to limit yourself to one or two drinks occasionally, rather than a binge-drinking weekend.
For moderate drinkers, stopping alcohol for a month can be a challenge, but it is achievable and healthy. The same might not be the case for daily drinkers and those dependent on alcohol. Total alcohol withdrawal can cause anxiety, shakiness and even more serious symptoms like seizures, and can eventually lead to heavier drinking in the long run.
If you’re concerned about your relationship with alcohol, get in touch with us for alcohol dependence treatments.
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