With drinking at an all-time high during the coronavirus pandemic , more people than ever are becoming sober curious.
As well as Dry January, Sober October is becoming a regular calendar event for those individuals who recognise the benefits of going alcohol-free. The charity Alcohol Change UK is also advocating Sober Spring as a 3-month alcohol sabbatical.
The effects of having a break from alcohol include better sleep, more energy, weight loss, better skin and lower blood pressure.
Your mental health can also be improved. Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism, and a glass of wine at the end of a hard day can easily spiral into a dependency. Alcohol can then often make the problem worse because of its effect on the brain. It impairs the brain’s frontal lobe, affects neurotransmitters and creates a dopamine imbalance, which may result in anxiety, depression and memory loss, ultimately impacting on a person’s daily life and relationships.
However, if you give up alcohol, you will begin to see positive changes within weeks, as your brain heals itself and your chemical levels regulate.
After only one week, your sleep will improve. Alcohol causes you to get less restorative REM (rapid eye movement) sleep so you wake up feeling less rested. Your REM cycle usually returns to normal after 7 days of going alcohol-free, leading to an improvement in cognitive function and mood.
Because alcohol is a diuretic, you can quickly become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. This is because alcohol causes your body to remove fluids from your blood through your renal system at a much quicker rate than other liquids. In the first week of giving up alcohol, you should see improved hydration levels, meaning less headaches, more energy, better physical performance and increased concentration.
Stopping alcohol for a few weeks can also allow the liver time to recover. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to alcohol-related fatty liver disease, but this is often reversible and can improve as your liver regenerates. However, longer term excessive alcohol intake can lead to liver cirrhosis, a life-threatening condition where the damage is not reversible.
Alcohol contains a lot of calories. A standard 175ml glass of wine contains 133 calories, while a pint of beer contains the same calories as a Mars Bar. Stopping alcohol for a few weeks, combined with a healthy diet, is a good way to lose some weight. Giving up alcohol can benefit your waistline in other ways too: less snacking and you are more likely to make healthy food choices.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time, but some studies have shown that your blood pressure can be significantly lowered in just 4 weeks if you stop drinking alcohol. By lowering your blood pressure, you also reduce the risk of developing serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.
Your skin will also reap the benefits of not drinking. It will appear brighter, more youthful and plumped, with fewer breakouts.
Are you ready to reap the benefits of an alcohol-free life? Alcohol Awareness Week, which takes place from 15–21st November, is a good place to start for help and advice.
If you, a friend, or a member of your family needs help addressing their alcohol consumption, AlphaBiolabs offers a range of alcohol testing solutions. These include blood alcohol testing, instant breath tests, nail clippings and 3- or 6-month hair analyses to show alcohol consumption over a period of time.
For expert advice, please call Customer Services on 0333 600 1300 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org