Maybe it’s time to do the Dry January challenge?
Come January 1, when you retire that LBD after a long season of hopping from party to party, it might feel tempting to set the most common resolution for the new year: to lose weight. But a surprising number of people are setting a goal to stop drinking alcohol, well, at least temporarily. Enter the Dry January trend.
If just jumping on the bandwagon isn’t enough of a motivation for you, know that 5.8 percent of cancer-related deaths are directly linked to continuously drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol (for women, that means a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer or 1 1/2-ounce pour of liquor), according to a review in the journal AddictionAddiction .
“It’s probably not detrimental to enjoy a few glasses of wine each week – in fact, it has been shown to improve heart health to drink in moderation. Still, these findings suggest that continuous drinking to excess can do more harm than we previously thought,” says Gary Rogg, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York. “If you can handle a month without alcohol, your risk for becoming dependent in the future is drastically reduced.”
So if you’re considering trying to beat the resolution odds with a Dry January, here’s what you can expect during the 31 booze-free days.
1. You’ll Save Major $$
Just think: Splurge on a couple cocktails with the girls at happy hour, split a bottle of wine during your Friday dinner date, and sip on a mimosa or two at Sunday brunch and you’re already looking at upwards of approximately $60. Stick to that rate for a year and you’re $3,120 in the red – and that’s not counting what you might grab at the supermarket to pop open after a long day. (Psst… Here’s a handy tool from the National Institutes of Health to calculate exactly how much you’ll save.) And TBH, those killer pumps you’ve had Pinned look a lot more tempting after a glass of vino. So as an added bonus, Dry January eliminates the risk of pinot-induced purchases.
2. You’ll Shed Some Pounds…
One hundred and fifty calories per drink may not sound like a lot, but cut just one a day and you’ll shed nearly a pound and a half over the course of one month. “Plus, when you drink, you’re more likely to eat more to counteract the tipsy feelings that come along with those liquid carbs,” Rogg says. Not drinking, then, means you’ll be more likely to skip the late night calls for pizza delivery, too.
3. …And Maybe Some (Fair Weather) Friends
Alcohol is a social lubricant and the center of many get-togethers. From a first date to the champagne you crack open when your BFF finally takes home that well-deserved raise, it can feel isolating to stick to La Croix rather than partake in a glass of something. But consider this: Your true loved ones will support you no matter what you’re imbibing, and you’ll see the true colors of those who are attempting to sabotage. “Abstaining for a month will prove that you can kick other bad habits,” Rogg adds. Like that toxic acquaintance who mocks your H2O or the candy bar-a-day snack.
4. Sleep Will Likely Feel More Restful
“Those who binge drink tend to fall asleep quickly, but generally wake earlier and can’t get back to sleep,” Rogg says. Since alcohol has sedative properties, as do drugs like Valium and Xanax, sleep quality and overall cognitive function are impaired under the influence. Within three alcohol-free nights, you should notice a difference in how rested you feel due to more REM (AKA restful) sleep, according to research performed at Wayne State University.
5. You Might Have Superpowers Over Your Cube-mate’s Cold
Overdoing it just once will hamper your immune system for as long as 24 hours post-binge, says the National Institutes of Health. Fascinatingly, a young adult’s immune system revs up immediately after drinking, according to research published in the journal Alcohol. But then immunity significantly dips for hours after, increasing your risk for catching a bug. Since ’tis the season for cold and flu viruses, scheduling a dry month for germy January makes perfect sense.
7. It’ll Take Way Less to Make You Feel Tipsy Next Time
“The body becomes more tolerant to excessive drinking over time, so it takes more to achieve the desired effect,” says Rogg, noting that the reverse is true as well after a period of abstinence. Which may be why several studies have found a reduction in overall drinking levels for quite some time even after the 31 days are up. In a study published in Health PsychologyHealth Psychology, 72 percent of those who took the dry month were still drinking less six months post-January than they were before the challenge.
8. Even If You Don’t Eliminate All the Juice, You’ll Deserve
Some days, a girl just needs a cocktail, so keep in mind that you’ll still score many of these benefits from simply cutting back. By bypassing a binge, you’ll be more productive the next day. “Fewer hangovers means more energy,” Rogg says. And, BTW, sipping just one glass makes you the most attractive, says research from the European journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. So instead of approaching the bar for another drink, maybe give yourself a high five instead?