Looking for a challenge that has fantastic potential to improve your health throughout the coming year? Consider taking the Dry January challenge. What began as a fad in England, has started becoming a thing in the United States as well, and for good reason. While there is much debate about the possible health benefits of moderate wine use, (this article from the Lancet suggests not) drinking too much of any alcoholic drink has substantial negative health effects. Researchers are finding that giving up alcohol for even one month has lasting Impact on health: from improved weight, concentration, quality of sleep, liver functioning; participants also found that they were drinking fewer days per week following completion of the challenge. Even more impressive, these results were sustained even six months after the month of abstinence ended.
Despite having a reputation for inducing sleep, researchers have found that as little as one drink of alcohol has been found to impair sleep quality as measured by heart rate variability. Long-term use of alcohol is well established to impair cognitive functioning, liver functioning, energy levels, contributing to issues with weight and nutritional choices, as well as well established issues with abuse and dependency. Alcohol is known to exacerbate issues with anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
One word of caution, if you think your alcohol consumption may be problematic or if you regularly consume moderate to large quantities of alcohol, please talk with your health care provider before attempting a sudden and complete withdrawal as this could potentially precipitate a medical emergency.
Consider joining me in this new January challenge. Whether you are sober-curious, looking to cut a few pound, repair your sleep, or simply reset and rebalance your habits, there are multiple benefits to engaging in a Dry January.