Tying in with the famous, ‘New Year, New me’ vibe around this time of year, giving up alcohol for the month of January is one of the most common resolutions taken on by those hoping to detox their body of their Christmas sins. Suddenly cutting certain types of food or drinks from your diet is a shock to the system in normal circumstances but when it comes to Dry January, it’s a different kind of shock altogether. Following the many social occasions and increased alcohol consumption over the holidays, our vow to cut out alcohol for the coming weeks seems reasonable.
But what happens to your body when you take the plunge and go cold turkey on the alcohol front?
Whether committing to an alcohol free month or if you’re in it for the long haul, these are some the effects to expect when cutting out alcohol.
Improved quality of sleep
As confirmed by Drinkaware, alcohol may help you in nodding off to sleep but it also prevents the body from staying in a deep sleep and entering REM cycles. If you drink before you go to sleep, your body will experience ‘micro-awakenings’ which you may not realise are happening but that interrupt your quality of sleep. It’s this effect of alcohol that contributes to feelings of ‘grogginess’ the following day. With a change to your alcohol consumption you may experience a change in sleeping patterns, initially finding it harder to get to sleep but improving the quality of the sleep that you do get, increasing energy levels and mood in the long term.
Everybody is different but for most of us a hangover isn’t the only thing we wake up with the morning after a night on the town. For many of us, our alcohol consumption leaves us with a fresh breakout thanks to the dehydration caused by alcohol’s diuretic qualities.
Even minus the breakout, drinking alcohol can leave skin and eyes looking dull and puffy, with dry skin also being a prominent side effect. By week two or three of dry January you should start to notice reduced redness or blotchiness to your complexion along with clearer, glowing skin.
If you’re replacing your alcohol consumption with sugary snacks, expecting weight loss from dry January is far from realistic but if you plan to maintain your usual diet and simply put down the glass of vino for the month, you may notice some changes in your weight.
Most of the time we don’t stop to think about how many calories are in the drinks we consume, instead thinking our drunken cravings are to blame for alcohol fuelled weight gain. In actual fact, according to Drinkaware, one pint of beer has the same amount of calories as a large slice of pizza while a large glass of wine may contain the same amount of calories as an ice cream. Unfortunately, while alcohol contributes to your calorie intake but doesn’t leave us feeling satisfied, instead amping up our hunger.
Cancer Research’s Alcohol Calculator allows you to figure out how many pounds – both in weight and currency – you can expect to save by cutting out alcohol for one month. Take that for motivation.
January is tough enough on the ol’ purse strings as it is. All money saving hacks are warmly welcomed at this time of year. Once you cut out the money spent going out at the weekends or even the few quid spent enjoying drinks at home, you’ll be surprised by just how much you can save. Think about the alternatives that money could be spent on – a shopping spree or spa day to shake off the January blues. Suddenly giving up alcohol doesn’t seem so bad.
Once your dry January has come to a close, check in with your body and take time to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. Did you feel more productive? Happier? Healthier? Did you see a change in your body shape? Did you save money? If you suffer from anxiety, how did cutting out alcohol affect that? Did you miss catching up with friends over a G & T at the weekend? Maybe you deepened connections with people. Maybe you learned more about yourself and how to have fun without alcohol. Maybe it really wasn’t for you. You may not have noticed any differences at all and actually, just missed the social aspects of drinking. Either way, ask yourself what the experiment means for your drinking habits going forward and implement changes accordingly.