Each year, thousands of people across the UK give up alcohol for the month of January. Whether it’s to challenge themselves, to take a break after overindulging over Christmas or to raise awareness of alcohol dependence, Dry January has become the new way to start the year for many people.
What is Dry January?
“Dry January” is a one-month alcohol-free challenge to help people start the new year on a refreshed and healthier note. It was started in 2013 by the Alcohol Change UK charity (https://alcoholchange.org.uk
) after a member of staff didn’t drink any alcohol in January and felt so good for it afterwards. Since then, it’s become a worldwide health initiative with millions of people taking part every year.
What are the health benefits of Dry January?
You could boost your mood
A beer or a glass of wine might seem to perk you up and wash the day’s worries away, but alcohol can actually increase feelings of anxiety. You may find that your mood is more stable when not consuming alcohol. While Dry January won’t remedy an illness like depression, stepping back from your nightly tipple could help you assesses your motivation for drinking.
You may sleep more soundly
We have all heard about the many studies from health experts singing the virtues of getting enough sleep at night. But whilst it’s common to fall asleep quickly after having a drink, many people wake up a few hours later and end up feeling groggy in the morning. This is due to how alcohol interferes with our body’s handling of the chemical adenosine. Drinking moderate or high amounts of alcohol decreases “restorative” REM sleep, according to a review in the journal Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research
So, with more sleep comes more energy, and without the ‘morning-after’ headache, you’re likely to feel much better in yourself. Lots of people find that with this new-found energy they get more done, concentration levels increase, and they even use the opportunity to take up more exercise.
Help on the inside
Research published in 2018
, conducted by the Royal Free Hospital and published in the British Medical Journal, found that a month off alcohol;
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces diabetes risk
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.
Dr Mehta, Senior Lecturer at the UCL Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, co-authored a paper on the benefits of periods of abstinence such as Dry January. He says:
“Our work has shown that a month off alcohol, in healthy individuals drinking at moderate to high levels, does lead to tangible health benefits by the end of the month. Our study saw a weight loss of around 2kg, a decrease in blood pressure of around 5%, and an improvement in diabetes risk of almost 30%. We also noted large decreases in blood growth factors that are linked to certain cancers”.
With all the pressure and stress of Christmas, people can use alcohol to help them cope. Unfortunately, with drinking the opposite can happen, as we tend to be more prone to ‘Crisis spending’, which;
Research by the University of Sussex in England
- Happens during a period of poor mental health
- Is motivated by emotional or psychological, rather than material need
- Causes some form of financial detriment.
found that, whilst Dry January had lots of benefits to the participants, by far its biggest advantage might be the positive change to bank accounts, with 88% of those who participated saving money as a result.
Worried about your health?
If you would like a review of your health and wellbeing, remember that ECIS offer Health Assessments at discounted rates. For more information visit https://www.ecins.co.uk/our-products/health-assessments/