Dry January is an initiative that encourages people to abstain from drinking for 30 consecutive days; last year more than 2 million people signed up to take part and help kick start a healthier lifestyle.
A relatively small sacrifice can bring a big return – participants noticed weight loss, better sleep and money saved when they ditched booze for just a month.
Why try Dry January
In a society that uses alcohol to relax, celebrate and enjoy life, we often don’t stop and think about how much we’re drinking or what the side effects of living in a drinking culture can be.
Giving it up for a 30 days helps rebalance the scales; we have the chance to give our body a break and take notice of the moments we reach for our favourite alcoholic beverage and examine whether it’s always necessary to have a drink.
Gram for gram, alcohol has as many calories as pure fat; a diet that includes alcohol regularly can lead to weight gain over time. As a result of drinking, fat also accumulates in the liver – as little as two weeks of abstinence from alcohol can help return your liver to good health.
Give up alcohol for a month and you might also notice an improvement in your sleep. Though we sometimes associate alcohol with making it easier to nod off, in reality even a couple of drinks can interfere with your normal sleep patterns. When we drink, we often fall immediately into a deep sleep, skipping the first stage of REM sleep. As the alcohol wears off, we slip back into a lighter REM sleep that is more easily disrupted, causing us to wake. This is why many people find after a night of heavy drinking they wake after just a few hours of sleep and still feel exhausted.
How to do it
Participating in Dry January is as simple as committing to 30 days without drink, and it’s not too late to get started now.
You can sign up to participate formally on the Dry January website, run by charity Alcohol Concern. Cancer Research UK also runs its own programme to raise money for cancer, called the Dryathalon. Here you can sign up solo or as part of a team to quit alcohol for a month and raise money for a good cause in the process.
Have you ever tried Dry January?