Dry January 2021

We’re halfway through January already! Many of our team are taking part in Dry January. If you’re joining them, there are some of the changes you may have noticed already.

Week 1 without alcohol

One week away from alcohol gives you a better sleeping pattern. You should have noticed that you are sleeping better. When you drink alcohol, you typically fall straight into a deep sleep, missing the important rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While you are supposed to have between six and seven cycles of REM sleep a night, you typically only have one or two when you’ve been drinking.

Better sleep comes with many benefits. You will be more productive and your ability to control your emotions and behaviour will also improve.

You should feel more hydrated. When you drink alcohol, you lose around four times as much liquid as what you actually drank. Dehydration can cause headaches, as your organs take water from the brain due to their own water loss. Therefore, giving up alcohol for even one week can help you keep well hydrated, which is in turn beneficial for your brain. Your mood and concentration levels stabilise, and you will be less likely to suffer from headaches. You should also have more energy throughout the day.

Think about the calories saved even in week one! If you gave up drinking six 175 ml glasses of wine in week one, you saved around 960 calories. That’s equivalent to three burgers or five and a half bags of crisp. If you stopped consuming six pints of average strength lager in week one, you saved 1080 calories. That’s similar to six bags of crisps or five chocolate bars.

Week 2 without alcohol

After two weeks off alcohol, you should have continued to reap the benefits of better sleep and hydration. As alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining, after a fortnight you should have also seen a reduction in symptoms such as reflux where the stomach acid burns your throat.

After a fortnight, you may also have noticed that you have lost weight as a result of giving up alcohol’s empty calories. By now those six 175ml glasses of wine per week would have saved you 1920 calories, and 2160 calories if you’d stopped drinking six pints of lager.

What can I look forward to?

In Week 3 without alcohol…

Your blood pressure should start to reduce. Reducing your blood pressure can be crucial as it can help to lessen the risk of health problems occurring in the future.  As the calories in alcohol can cause you to gain weight, giving up alcohol can also help you to reduce your blood pressure as a result of the weight you can potentially lose. By this point, if you’d previously been drinking six 175ml glasses of wine a week, you would have lost 2880 calories over three weeks. And if you’d been drinking six pints of lager a week, you would have lost 3240 calories.

In Week 4 without alcohol…

You will see a positive impact on your skin due to you having better levels of hydration. As more water will have been absorbed rather than wasted, you are likely to have more hydrated-looking skin, as well as reduced dandruff and eczema.  Removing alcohol from your diet for four weeks can also help to improve your liver function as your liver will start to shed excess fat. If your liver function is not too badly affected by alcohol, it can recover within 4-8 weeks.  With the liver playing a part in over 500 vital processes, you also give your body a better chance of removing contaminants, converting food nutrients, storing minerals and vitamins.

By this point, your body is likely to have benefitted greatly from giving up alcohol. Better hydration and improved sleep will have increased your productivity and daily wellbeing. Your liver, stomach and skin will also have benefitted from not dealing with alcohol. You will also have reduced your calorie intake by 3840 for the month if you used to drink six glasses of 175ml wine a week, or 4320 calories over the month if you used to drink six pints of lager a week.

Our care teams have been working hard to stick to Dry January. We’ve also been encouraging them to hit their 10,000 steps a day to get 2021 off to a good start. We’ve also been supporting our customers to make healthy choices to improve their lifestyle this year. For more ways to improve your health, check out programmes such as HowFit or Winter Warmers & Workouts. With COVID-19 still affecting all of us, it’s more important than ever to invest in your health and wellbeing.

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