When all the holiday parties and end-of-the-year chaos is behind us, we look to January as a clean slate. We make new resolutions, set career goals and get back on track food-wise. Because honestly, there’s no better time for a detox. In addition to getting rid of all the Doritos and Oreos in our pantries, some of us also say goodbye to all the sauvignon blancs, Coronas and cabernets to undertake a Dry January. Below, nine things that might happen if you stop drinking for a month.
1. YOU MIGHT SLEEP BETTER
While a glass of wine before bed may help you fall asleep faster, you’re not alone if you’ve ever spent a post-drinking night tossing and turning. Here’s why: “Drinking can alter the body’s natural cycles, called circadian rhythms, causing problems sleeping,” explained Dr. Ellen Albertson (aka The Midlife Whisperer), PhD, RDN and NBC-HWC at Tiger Wellness, LLC. “So, drinking less will help the body reset. Drinking can help you fall asleep faster, but it disrupts your sleep cycle, so the quality of sleep is poorer resulting in daytime fatigue.”
2. YOU'LL PROBABLY LOSE WEIGHT
Everybody knows alcohol is calorie-packed. (One beer has 150 calories, y’all!) Eliminating that one glass from dinnertime every night means you’re axing 1,050 calories per week, which can lead to dropping some pounds. Giving up alcohol will also decrease liver fat and lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, making you less prone to heart disease and diabetes.
3. YOU'LL BE CHEERIER
Sure, a few beers may make you feel relaxed and happy in the moment, but alcohol is, by its very nature, a depressant. When you drink it, you stimulate your body to produce stress hormones. Cut it out of your diet, and you’ll be more cheerful, more lively and more motivated to do the things that’ll make you happy in the long run (like starting a journal).
“Alcohol can lower serotonin levels, which can have a negative impact on your [overall] mood,” says Dr. Albertson. “It can make you feel more depressed, anxious and blue than before you had a drink. I’ve also found in my practice that when people depend on alcohol to raise dopamine and feel good, they don’t make the needed changes in their life which will truly help them transform and be happy.” So drop that glass of wine and try some other ways to feel happier—doctor’s orders.
4. Your Willpower May Improve
One victory leads to another, and once you cut the booze, other challenges that seem daunting may feel more easily achievable. Whether it’s deciding to give up processed foods or hitting up the gym on a regular basis, once-hard lifestyle changes might become NBD.
5. You'll Have a Dewy Glow
Alcohol is extremely dehydrating. (It reduces the body's production of the diuretic hormone that helps it absorb water.) And dehydrated people rarely have lovely complexions. So, after just a few drinkless days, you may notice your formerly dry skin becoming more moisturized and glowing, among other positive skin changes. “Alcohol can increase the chance of developing wrinkles. Drinking also reduces the level of skin protecting antioxidants and increases inflammation, which can lead to redness,” warns Dr. Albertson.
6. Your Brain Might Become Sharper
“Alcohol is toxic to the central nervous system and can damage dendrites— which are at the end of neurons—making it harder for the drinker to process information,” Dr. Albertson states. “It also negatively impacts how much thiamine (B1), an important brain nutrient, is absorbed. At higher levels, it impacts the temporal, occipital, parietal and frontal lobes of the brain, which can affect vision, speech and hearing.” In other words, cutting alcohol will ensure that your brain remains in tip-top shape.
7. You Might Find it Harder to Maintain Certain Friendships
You know Boozy Betsy, who can always be counted on to order another round? She might mistake your personal choice for a criticism of her lifestyle. Make it clear to her that it’s not, but if she still feels uncomfortable, let her be—she’ll come back around when she realizes you’re still fun sober.
8. Your Relationships May Get Better
You lose some, you win some. And though some relationships might falter if you decide to take a break from drinking, you might make others stronger, since life can be much better when you’re present and cognizant. Those late-night convos and FaceTime chats with your significant other or longtime bestie might just be much more fulfilling and cathartic if they’re coming from a clear and sober mind.
9. You'll Definitely Save Some Money
The average glass of wine at a bar costs $12, and don’t get us started on the price of a bottle at our favorite restaurant. That is all.