Dry January is a month-long campaign, promoted by Alcohol Concern to encourage people to give up drinking alcohol for the month. The charity is connecting to other charities in 2018 to promote the benefits to the body of giving up drink for a month. It is promoting an app which can help to count calories, track units of alcohol and show how much money is saved. It also recommends that participants set up a giving page to one of six charities: Action for Children, Breast Cancer Now, British Liver Trust, Crisis, Hospice UK and World Cancer Research Fund. It is suggested that people donate the money that they save from not drinking, or that they encourage family and friends to sponsor them.
Signing up to Dry January can offer a number of health benefits. It can help people to realise how much they are drinking and enable the participant to reset their frame of mind about alcohol. It can help the participant to realise the amount that they drink, and help them to decide to drink less in the future.
The new year is traditionally a time when people think about their unhealthy habits and resolve to do something about them. It is a good time to start new routines and new habits. Giving up alcohol, even for a month, can improve sleep patterns. People who go to sleep drunk, tend to fall straight into a deep sleep, which can then lead to a disturbed night later on. The more normal pattern of sleep is to fall into a lighter, REM sleep for 6-7 cycles which then gradually gives way to deeper sleep and enables people to wake up refreshed. Alcohol drinking can reduce this to only 1-2 cycles a night which means people can wake, feeling exhausted. People who have heavily consumed alcohol are also more likely to snore and suffer night-time trips to the toilet.
Alcohol has a lot of calories, so it is possible to lose weight when giving up alcohol. Not only will the participant feel better, but they will look better too. A pint of beer is worth 208 calories, while 125 ml of dry white wine will have 85 calories. The sweeter the wine, the more the calories. A pint of Guinness will have 170 calories. Alcohol drinking can also lead people to feel hungry at the end of the night, so people taking part in Dry January will be avoiding the late night kebab too.
Exercise can help to alleviate some of the effects of alcohol, but giving up drink for a month could help boost energy levels which will enable people to get more active. They may be able to achieve more, and that hangover headache and nausea will definitely not be missed.
Concentration levels may also improve, as will reaction times, when people are no longer reaching for a regular drink. Blood pressure levels may fall, as may cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The liver is given a break when people take the month off alcohol and this may reduce liver stiffness, which is a measure used to check the health of the liver.
Many of the people taking part in Dry January also saved money because they were no longer regularly buying alcohol. Those who have been surveyed after taking part in previous years’ campaigns, managed to reduce their levels of drinking and maintain them for six months after taking part. 8% of people continued not to drink. They also reported increased feelings of wellbeing after giving up alcohol for a month.
Alcohol Concern, Dry January 2018
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