There are plenty of reasons why many of us will give up alcohol for the first month of the New Year, and new decade. After the excesses of Christmas, Dry January can be a welcome challenge, whether we do it to save money, for charity or because we’re trying for a baby. We may even be pregnant already and looking to stop that occasional glass of wine that we haven’t managed to cut down.
Studies in women trying to conceive, found that drinking 1-5 drinks per week lowered the number of those falling pregnant by 30%. Higher amounts of alcohol use lowered the number of pregnancies by 60%; so heavy drinking increases the time it takes to get pregnant but can affect a developing baby's health and reduce men’s sex drive, the quality of sperm, in some cases even cause impotence.
For women planning a pregnancy, not drinking alcohol at all is simply the safest option.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risks of your baby having problems like premature birth, brain damage, growth problems and development birth defects (like heart defects, hearing or vision problems), foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), low birthweight (LBW), even miscarriage and stillbirth.
Priory Group’s addictions expert Dr Niall Campbell explains on Metro.co.uk that your sleep will improve after just one week without alcohol; when you go to bed drunk, you fall straight into a deep sleep, skipping the rapid eye movement (REM) phase and this gives you just 1-2 cycles of REM sleep, rather than the recommended 6-10 cycles per night.
Staying sober for a week will also see our body become more hydrated (as, when we drink alcohol, we lose around four times as much liquid as what we actually consume) and that is beneficial for our brain; our mood and concentration will be more stable and headaches are likely to decrease.
Along with better sleep and more hydration, you may also notice a reduction in tummy pain, nausea, and digestive issues, halfway into Dry January; you’ll also start losing weight, thanks to giving up alcohol’s empty calories.
According to Dr Campbell, we would save 1,920 calories if we stopped drinking six 175ml glasses of wine per week; this means that, by the end of Dry January, we will have reduced our calorie intake by 3,840, if we used to drink six glasses of 175ml wine a week.
After three alcohol-free weeks, our blood pressure will start to reduce and this is a pretty major deal, as high blood pressure (hypertension) is a key cause of stroke and heart attack.
Making it to the end of Dry January (although this doesn’t have to be the end of sobriety) will mean you actually notice some differences in the way you look and feel
You’ll also have saved quite a bit of money and your sex life will have improved. It’s common sense, really. If you keep avoiding alcohol, you’ll continue to see more benefits.
If you’re enjoying Dry January, there’s no reason to stop. One month sober doesn’t have to be the end of your journey.
Tips for getting through Dry January:
Take each day at a time!
Stop drinking together with friends or colleagues
Get rid of any alcohol in the house.
Don’t stop going out with friends, do socialise but have a soft drink instead.
Try alcohol-free drinks, like G&T and beer
Try out a new hobby, like exercising or joining a club.
Make sure to talk to everyone - maybe post on social media – about your challenge, it makes it easier to stick to it
Enjoy Dry January and notice everything you don’t miss about drinking, rather than what you think you’re missing out on
If you are struggling with giving up alcohol, why not talk to someone? A counsellor will have heard it all before, nothing will phase them and they will not judge you; they are there to encourage and support you, guiding the therapeutic process without interrupting or interfering with your process
At Muma Nurture we believe that if you’ve had a bad day and broken your resolution there’s no need to be unkind to yourself or to give up completely.
If you haven’t started yet, there is no bad time to make a start.
We’re here to support you with therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Massage, Reflexology, Nutrition and Counselling, all provided by fully trained therapists.