Want to save cash, lose weight & sleep better? Lay off the booze in January

There are considerable immediate benefits to taking part in Dry January, which involves steering clear of alcohol for the month, says researcher

02 January 2019 - 12:00 By AFP Relaxnews
Socialising without alcohol for the month of January could bring a variety of health benefits according to new research.
Socialising without alcohol for the month of January could bring a variety of health benefits according to new research.
Image: 123RF/andreycherkasov

New UK research has found that taking part in Dry January, which involves staying away from alcohol for a month, could help people lose weight, sleep better, boost energy, save money, and reduce drinking long-term.

Carried out by the University of Sussex, the new study surveyed UK adults who took part in Dry January in 2018, an event which is organised in the UK by the charity Alcohol Change UK. 

The first survey questioned 2,821 people who had registered for Dry January; the second questioned 1,715 in the first week of February; and the final survey included 816 participants in August.

The findings showed that those who take part in Dry January also report drinking less months later, with alcohol consumption also lower in August.

Participants also reported drinking on fewer days, with the average number of drinking days falling on average from 4.3 to 3.3 per week. The units consumed per drinking day also dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1, and the frequency of being drunk dropped from 3.4 times per month to 2.1 times per month on average.

Other benefits of Dry January included a sense of achievement, reported by 93% of participants, and saving money, reported by 88% of those surveyed.

Taking in part in Dry January also led to 82% of participants thinking more about their relationship with drink, with 80% feeling more in control of their drinking and 76% learning more about when and why they drink. A large number (71%) also realised that they don't need a drink to enjoy themselves.

Cutting back on booze brought a large number of health benefits including more energy and better skin

Cutting back on booze also brought a large number of other health benefits including improved overall health, better sleep, more energy, weight loss, better concentration, and better skin.

"The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week. There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in ten people save money, seven in ten sleep better and three in five lose weight," said the study's lead author Dr Richard de Visser.

"Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn't manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month — although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January."

Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, also commented on the findings saying, "Put simply, Dry January can change lives. We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using Dry January, and who feel healthier and happier as a result."

"Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol — seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems — but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight ... the list goes on. Dry January helps millions to experience those benefits and to make a longer-lasting change to drink more healthily."