The holiday season has its own adult beverages. We indulge in spiked eggnog, dessert drinks like Baileys and ring in the new year with champagne. By the time January rolls around, some people choose to take a monthlong break from drinking. This practice, launched in the UK in 2013, is known as Dry January.
But truth be told, many of us didn’t wait for the most wonderful time of the year to drink more than usual. According to psychologists, during the pandemic, uncertainty and loss led people to increase their drinking to manage stress.
In a Rand Corporation study, respondents reported a 14 percent increase in how frequently they drank. Women had a 41 percent increase in heavy drinking days. The CDC defines excessive drinking as four or more drinks in a row for women and five or more for men.
With a new year comes the intention to form positive habits and that is one of the driving forces behind Dry January. But taking a break from alcohol delivers surprising health benefits.
Health benefits of Dry January
Since most people don’t realize the impact of alcohol on the body, they underestimate the benefits of giving up drinking for a month.
1. Weight loss
A 2019 survey of Dry January participants found that more than half (54 percent) lost weight. This makes sense when you consider that alcoholic drinks are empty calories. When you add mixers, the calorie count goes even higher. But the real reason alcohol contributes to weight gain is that your body burns it as a fuel source before anything else. If you have a few drinks and a meal, your body will burn the alcohol for fuel and convert the food into fat. In the absence of alcohol, your body burns the calories you eat for fuel.
2. Better sleep
Drinking a small amount of alcohol can help a person get to sleep. But drinking excessively makes it difficult to fall asleep or remain asleep. 70 percent of Dry January participants reported sleeping better when they weren’t drinking.
3. Saving money
Almost everyone (86 percent) mentioned saving money during Dry January. If you’re ordering cocktails or wine at your favorite restaurant,