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Dry January Health Benefits: Weight Loss, Better Sleep, More Energy

Dry January has begun, where participants abstain from alcohol for a month. Research suggests that this challenge offers health benefits such as improved sleep, weight loss, lower blood pressure, and more energy.

KEY FACTS

Dry January, which was initiated by Alcohol Change U.K., has become a popular trend where individuals commit to abstaining from alcohol consumption throughout January to improve their health. Although it originated in the U.K., the trend has gained significant popularity in the U.S. Data from CGA Strategy reveals that American participation has increased substantially, rising from 21% in 2019 to 35% in 2022.

Alcohol misuse can lead to various health hazards such as cancer, heart/liver ailments, high blood pressure, mental health issues, dependence, stroke, and compromised immunity. These dangers have been highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Studies indicate that refraining from alcohol for 30 days can positively impact sleep quality, energy levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and diminish cancer-related markers (BMJ Open, 2018).

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Research from the University of Sussex (2019) reported widespread benefits among participants: reduced spending (90%), improved sleep (71%), weight loss (58%), enhanced skin (54%), and increased energy (67%).

Moreover, a study by the American Psychological Association (2016) revealed sustained changes post-Dry January, with participants consuming less alcohol weekly and per drinking day, indicating potential lasting impacts beyond the challenge.

CONTRA

It’s important to note that Dry January, a month-long challenge where people abstain from alcohol, may be beneficial for moderate drinkers but it’s not recommended for individuals dealing with alcohol dependency. Alcohol Change U.K. warns that those who are clinically dependent on alcohol could face fatal consequences by suddenly quitting. Abrupt cessation can trigger an alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, agitation, rapid heart rate, tremors, or shakes.

If left untreated, a certain syndrome can develop into severe seizures, delirium tremens, or even fatality. Delirium tremens can be life-threatening and is characterized by symptoms such as fever, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. It is strongly advised to seek guidance from a healthcare professional for a supervised medical detox instead of trying to quit independently.

KEY BACKGROUND

It has been observed that the popularity of Dry January is increasing, and this may be because Gen Z drinks less than other generations. A study conducted in 2020 by JAMA Network Open found that almost 30% of college students in 2018 abstained from alcohol, compared to 20% in 2002. According to David Slutes, the entertainment director of Club Congress in Tucson, Arizona, events aimed at Gen Z saw a 25% decrease in alcohol sales compared to those catering to older generations. Although there is no definitive answer as to why Gen Z is drinking less, there are some theories. Akhil Anand, an addictions psychiatrist with the Cleveland Clinic, suggests that these theories include an increase in mental health awareness, more education about the risks of alcohol at an early age, a growing preference for cannabis, and the popularity of “clean living” and healthier lifestyles.

TANGENT

Sober October is a widely accepted abstention challenge that encourages people to avoid consuming alcohol throughout October. The funds raised during this event are donated to support Macmillan Cancer Support. During this period, many individuals shift their focus towards non-alcoholic beverages. The no- and low-alcohol drinks sector is experiencing significant growth, projected to expand by 25% between 2022 and 2026, as indicated by data from the beverage market analysis firm IWSR. In 2022, this industry generated over $11 billion in revenue, primarily driven by the increase in non-alcoholic products. Some celebrities, such as Bella Hadid and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, have recently ventured into creating non-alcoholic beverages, reflecting this emerging trend. The rise of the “sober curious” lifestyle, which is considered a shift away from alcohol, is contributing to the momentum of this movement. The hashtag #sobercurious, especially popular among Gen Z and millennials, has gained over 805 million views on TikTok, demonstrating its widespread interest and engagement.

BIG NUMBER

On TikTok, the hashtag #DryJanuary has 381.5 million views where users share sober tips, favorite mocktails, and past experiences.

This article was originally posted on Forbes

 

 

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