The end of the year is one of the most challenging times for staying on track with your health and fitness goals. Starting in October, one holiday after another features candy, decadent food and — for many of us — lots of adult beverages. When the new year starts, it’s a great time to step back and reset your dietary and drinking habits.
Dry January was started by an advocacy group in the U.K. and encourages people to go sober for one month. Even if you’re just a social drinker, you can almost certainly see some health benefits from taking a break from booze. Here are five reasons you should consider taking part in Dry January this year.
1. Give Your Liver a Break
Drinking alcohol taxes your liver, which is why heavy drinking over time can cause scarring of the liver, a condition called cirrhosis. The good news? Your liver cells can repair themselves, when given the opportunity. The British Liver Trust suggests abstaining from alcohol for two or three consecutive days per week, while still following the guidelines for healthy intake at other times. Avoiding alcohol altogether for a month can ensure you’re giving your liver a solid, uninterrupted opportunity to heal.
2. Reset Your Tolerance
The more you drink, the more tolerance you develop. Many people find that while one drink used to be enough to make them feel relaxed, it now takes two or three. On the flip side, when you drink less often and in smaller quantities, your tolerance begins to reset. At the end of a month free from alcohol, you may find that it’s easier to stay within a reasonable limit the next time you go out.
3. Sleep Better
Having a drink before bed might make you fall asleep faster, but alcohol actually interferes with your sleep pattern. When you drink, you tend to sleep less deeply, leaving you feeling sluggish the next day. Having a month without alcohol can help you reclaim your sleep and have more energy.
4. Look Better
Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes you to lose fluid and can make you feel dehydrated. Dehydration makes your skin lose elasticity and that healthy shine. By increasing your water intake during Dry January, you may find you improve your skin tone and bring back a healthy glow.
5. Achieve Your Fitness Goals
For many of us, January is a time to reset our focus on our fitness and health goals. If you’re aiming for weight loss, there’s no way around it: Beer, wine and mixed drinks are empty calories. Cutting those out is an easy way to immediately reduce your caloric intake. And when you’re sleeping better, you’ll likely have more energy to start a new workout routine. Plus, depending on how much you usually spend on drinks at home and out to dinner, the cost savings may cover the cost of a gym membership.
These are just a few of the benefits of going sober for a month — you may find your own personal reasons to give it a try. Talk to your doctor about easing up on your alcohol intake, and ask your friends, family or coworkers to join you if they’re interested.