New year, new you

5 benefits of Dry January that last all year

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Started by the U.K. charity Alcohol Change, Dry January encourages people to swear off drinking for the first month of the year.

The campaign has spread to a global event with 4 million people taking part as of 2020.

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Research from the University of Sussex published in 2018 shows that participating in Dry January can have positive outcomes throughout the year, even for people who don't make it all month without a drink.

1. Reduce drinking throughout the year

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Once Dry January ends, participants tend to drink less in the following months, reporting that they drank one less day per week and had one less drink when they did partake.

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That could be because a month of abstinence changed the way people think about drinking.

According to the study, after Dry January:

  • 82 percent think more deeply about their relationship with drink
  • 80 percent feel more in control of their drinking
  • 76 percent learned more about when and why they drink
  • 71 percent realized they don't need a drink to enjoy themselves

2. Get a better night's sleep

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Seventy-one percent of participants also reported sleeping better when they stopped drinking.

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Decades of research support the idea that drinking alcohol can interfere with your all-important REM sleep cycle.

3. Shed a few pounds

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Fifty-eight percent of participants in the Dry January study reported losing weight.

Losing weight is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Studies have shown that heavy drinking can lead to weight gain.

4. Put some money in the bank

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Eighty-eight percent of study participants reported saving money when they cut out alcohol.

It's a no-brainer that not splurging for alcohol can save you money, but since abstaining for a month can help you cut back on drinking all year, the savings might be more than you expect.

5. Boost your mental health

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Among Dry January participants in the study, 93 percent reported a sense of achievement and 57 percent reported better concentration.

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In addition, 67 percent said they had more energy and 70 percent said they had "generally improved health."

These outcomes could have as much to do with completing a goal as they do with reducing alcohol consumption.

For more articles on health and wellness, click here.

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