Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Drinking For A Month
Dry July is the fundraiser that challenges you to go alcohol-free for a month to support people affected by cancer.
Whether you have a bevvie most nights or consider yourself a social drinker, chances are almost all of us could benefit from taking some time off booze, and with Dry July around the corner, you don’t really have an excuse. While many of us know what the aftereffects of alcohol feel like (g’day, Sunday headache!), few fully understand the science behind why we feel so bad after a big night out.
So, we’ve taken a deep dive into the physiological effects of taking a break from alcohol.
Sweats, Shakes & Spews
Depending on your typical alcohol intake, you may actually experience symptoms of withdrawal when you kick it, if only for a short time. Your body might go into detox mode and – spoiler alert – it isn’t fun. Not everyone will experience such severe symptoms, but a lot of Australians regularly drink heavily and may not realise that stopping will shock their body.
Some symptoms, including sweating, shaking, nausea, headaches, a racing heart and anxiety, can come on as quickly as one day after quitting drinking. If you’re worried about how you’re feeling, contact Direct Line or YODAA to stay safe.
Social drinkers can still experience mild detox symptoms, especially if it’s the day after a big night: a hangover is essentially a mini-withdrawal. The good news is the first days of quitting anything are the hardest, and you’ll start seeing more positive benefits within as short as one week.
A lot of people will have conked-out after a big night, possibly with shoes on and kebab in hand. But despite this sudden dozing, it might surprise you to know this isn’t actually a decent snooze.
Alcohol affects our sleep in a really negative way – it reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement), meaning disjointed sleep patterns and, ironically, more wakefulness during the second half of slumber. Less REM sleep means the body isn’t actually restoring itself, which is what sleep is all about (as well as being a vehicle for cool dreams).
As soon as a few days after quitting booze, your sleep will become better. If you’re used to a nightcap, it may take a little longer to drift off at first, but the actual quality and quantity of your sleep will improve.
Just a week after giving up booze, your energy levels should improve. Not only is your sleep quality better, your blood sugar isn’t being spiked by alcohol and all the other additives that go into drinks. You’ll find mornings are easier to handle and, who knows, maybe you’ll become one of those people who jog to cafes early on weekends.
Bonus: This is when all the best dogs are being walked. Hooray for more energy!
For many of us, acne and spots aren’t something that we left in our teen years. The good news is that, within just a few weeks of stopping drinking, you might notice an improvement in your skin. Alcohol dehydrates the skin and fights natural antioxidants that normally protect us from sun damage and other things like free radicals, which are (despite their totally tubular ‘80s-sounding name) not-so-nice, unstable atoms that can lead to things like disease and serious illness.
Goodbye, puffy eyes.
Now, we know that losing weight is not the be-all and end-all of health but if you’re feeling sluggish due to excess kilos caused by heavy drinking and not enough movement, we’ve got some good news. Quitting drinking automatically reduces the amount of energy you’re consuming because it contains calories. Combine this with better sleep and you might find yourself feeling full of beans.
The absence of hangovers can also lead to making healthier food choices (the pickle on that 2am hamburger doesn’t count as a serve of vegies, sorry), so your overall vitamin and mineral intake may improve substantially.
Keep On Keepin’ On
After a month off, you might find your body and mental health improving – not to mention your bank balance. You may even choose to abstain for another month or two, or simply make more mindful choices in the future. Either way, it’s a win-win.
Dry July is the fundraiser that challenges you to go alcohol-free for a month to support people affected by cancer, with funds raised distributed to cancer support organisations across Australia. Sign up now at the following link.