Should You Try Dry January? Here Are The Potential Benefits

Each year, January 1 brings about a new desire to change our habits, improve our health, and finally start using that planner that's collecting dust. It's no surprise why — after the indulgence and relaxation of the holidays — many of us see the new year as a symbolic fresh start to finally become our best selves. Unfortunately, however, those resolutions don't always take. According to a 2020 survey by Ipsos, over half of the people surveyed admitted that they didn't stick to the goals they set at the beginning of the year.


So why not take that energy and create an actually achievable goal that could still leave you feeling healthier and happier after the holidays? By giving yourself a distinct timeline and a specific plan of action, you're much more likely to follow through with your resolution, hence the popularity of dry January. Abstaining from wine nights and happy hours won't magically change your life, but it can lead to quite a few short-term benefits and a year-long reconsideration of your typical drinking habits.

Health improvements

If you typically only have one or two drinks a week, you likely won't see many health benefits from cutting out alcohol entirely, but many people are heavy drinkers without even realizing it. According to Healthline, moderate alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men. Many people take this to mean that they can essentially batch their drinks, abstaining from alcohol throughout the week and drinking more heavily on one day or throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, that's not how it works — even one night of four or five drinks is considered binge drinking.


Besides the obvious hangovers and headaches that you'll feel the next morning, drinking heavily can increase your risk for heart disease, liver disease, and even cancer over the long term. A few crazy nights in your life isn't the end of the world, but taking a break from alcohol can give your body a bit of a break and provide some short-term benefits that could leave you feeling healthier.

Better sleep

While a glass of wine or a cocktail at the end of a long day might help you fall asleep faster, it can actually have negative effects on the quality of your rest. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can leave you feeling a bit drowsy or relaxed, but it actually makes it harder for your brain to fall into deep sleep throughout the night.


According to Sleep Foundation, even a small amount of alcohol can have an effect. Less than one drink for women or fewer than two drinks for men can still decrease sleep quality by 9.3%, and the impacts only grow as the amount of alcohol increases. By committing to dry January, you'll likely see the effects of higher-quality sleep and wake up feeling more energized in the morning. This allows you to not only feel better throughout the day, but gives you time to focus on healthier habits like going to the gym and making breakfast instead of sleeping in.

Weight loss

If one of your goals in the New Year is to healthily lose weight, cutting out alcohol for a bit can help. Liquor is higher in calories than most people realize — usually about 100 per shot — and when coupled with sugary mixers, it can add up quickly (via GoodRX). By swapping your beer, wine, or cocktails for something non-alcoholic, you'll likely lose a few pounds without any major change to your diet. 


Staying sober also has the added benefit of cutting out those late-night and hangover fast food cravings. After a night of drinking, you'll likely be more tempted to pick up something greasy and filling than a well-balanced meal. It can have some effects on your metabolism, too. After consuming alcohol, your body focuses its energy on breaking it down and removing it from your system, meaning it's too preoccupied clearing out those vodka sodas to effectively process the dollar slice you grabbed on the way home.

Better skin

While developing a great skincare routine can have some major benefits, a lot of the work required to create a glowing complexion is internal. Drinking doesn't lead directly to acne or dull skin, but dehydration, excess sugar consumption, and inflammation can have powerful effects (via Healthline). We all know water is a magical substance that seemingly influences all of our body's systems, and alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it pulls excess salt and water from the body. Even if you hit your water consumption goal for the day, a few drinks can leave you feeling a bit dehydrated, and the added impacts of drinking something that's processed in the body as sugar is a recipe for inflammatory acne.


There's also, of course, the impact of not taking off your makeup after a night out. That glittery eye may have looked great on the dance floor, but after a night out, many people are less likely to remove their makeup, and complete their skincare routine. After a month of not drinking, you might notice those stubborn red bumps are finally starting to fade.

Reconsidering your habits

Life is hectic, whether you're dealing with a packed work schedule, difficult classes, or taking care of kids, and a lot of the time, we don't have the chance to stop and take stock of our habits. According to data from Massachusetts General Hospital, 21% of people reported an increase in excessive drinking throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and that trend has continued even as restrictions have loosened globally. After this sudden increase, it's important to check in with yourself to make sure you're enjoying alcohol responsibly.


By cutting out alcohol for a month, you'll give yourself the chance to truly reflect on how much you drink, why you drink, and how it impacts your health. For some, this might mean jumping right back in when February comes, but for others, you might find yourself cutting back for the long run. Either way, taking a break is a great chance to reconsider your relationship with alcohol and whether or not it's healthy.