When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, a common one happens to be going ‘dry’ for January and cutting out all alcohol for the month.


Whether the goal is to counteract an overindulgent holiday season or to make a healthy choice to begin the year, many people will take part in an alcohol-free month.


Any reduction in alcohol consumption is going to improve your health, but how much of an impact can one month of change really have?


Research participants found the answers to this in a study that asked each of the 94 moderate-to-heavy drinkers to abstain from alcohol for one month. The changes in behaviour resulted in improvements to insulin resistance, weight, blood pressure, liver function and a reduction in two cancer proteins (VEGF, EGF) found in the blood.


Although the study did not address long-term health improvements, around half of the participants previously drinking at harmful levels had made lasting changes six to eight months after the study.


Along with the benefits identified in the study, numerous other positive changes occur when you stop drinking.


Weight loss

Any calories over your daily energy needs are stored as fat. When your body isn’t focused on burning the empty (and extra) calories from drinks, it can focus on burning the calories you’re consuming to meet your nutritional needs.


Better sleep

You may associate alcohol with feeling sleepy or falling asleep, but just a few drinks can significantly disrupt the quality of your sleep. Alcohol influences the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleeping patterns, and prevents you from getting the proper amount of REM sleep.


Improved digestion

When you drink, your liver is tasked with filtering out the toxins. Once alcohol is out of the picture, your liver is freed up to deal with the toxins you naturally come in contact with. The digestive system can also struggle with alcohol consumption, especially beer and wine. These fermented drinks can cause the overproduction of gastric acid, which can irritate your stomach.


Reduced anxiety

Alcohol is a depressant and has a significant impact on the function of numerous brain systems. When the psychoactive effects of alcohol wear off, you can be left feeling anxious. Taking a break from drinking can restore normal levels of hormones in the brain and improve your mental state.


Beyond the physical improvements, a month free from alcohol can be beneficial. Of the 800 people surveyed following their participation in dry January, the vast majority (88 percent) reported having more money in their wallets. 93 percent of participants felt a sense of achievement, 80 percent felt more in control of their drinking, and 71 percent realized they didn’t need a drink to enjoy themselves.


This is where the effects of a dry month can have staying power. A month off is great, but a long-term change to your habits is the only way to have a lasting impact on your health.


A month free from drinking can help you learn more about why and when you drink and help you realize that alcohol isn’t necessary to socialize or relax. A dry January can help you rethink and reset your relationship with alcohol and move in a healthier direction.


To make the most of your resolution, try the Dry January App, where you can keep tabs on your progress and find tips and tricks to keep your streak going.