As those of you who read these posts regularly know, I rarely write about behaviors, focusing instead on corporations and organizations and their trends.
However, this topic attracted my attention and seems an appropriate one to discuss as one of the first of the new year. A trend that began in Britain, called “Dry January,” is making its way to the U.S. The practice is to pledge to drink nothing but fizzy water, kombucha, and other non-alcoholic drinks for the entire month of January. The trend began with Alcohol Change UK in 2013 and has been chronicled by researchers to determine what effects, if any, having a dry January produces. The results are interesting. In a study of 857 people who signed up for the program, it was found that two-thirds of those participating met the challenge and ended January without having had an alcoholic drink. And, six months later, participants reported that their drinking days had declined to 3.3, from an earlier 4.3. But other benefits were also noticed: 58% said they lost weight; 57% reported better concentration; 54% said they had better skin; 88% said they saved money; 80% felt more in control of their drinking; 71% realized they didn’t need to drink to enjoy themselves; 71% reported sleeping better; and 67% said they had more energy (these data are from a recent WSJ article). The myth is that alcohol assists individuals in sleeping better; the actuality is that there is a slow-wave sleep induced for the first two hours but a tendency to awake shortly after, producing fragmented sleep. There are also some downsides to the dramatic drop in drinking, however. For example, when heavy drinkers stop drinking abruptly, the results of alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. But for moderate drinkers, there is a definite benefit in a number of areas, including consuming fewer calories when they drink less, both from the alcohol, itself, as well as the fact that alcohol stimulates the appetite and the tendency is to eat less-healthy snacks while drinking. A senior vice-president at a Chicago consulting firm has reported that she has found good benefit from doing a Dry December, instead of January. She indicates that being “clear-headed” and taking advantage of the many opportunities to interact with clients during the month has allowed her to be at the top of her game. “It was only when I tried a December without alcohol that I realized how advantaged one is when not imbibed.” She reports that she feels better when she’s not drinking – fewer headaches and better sleep, not to mention the reduction in calories. Sounds like something to keep in mind for the entire year, not just December or January. Here’s to 2019!