- Some experts take issue with the strict format of Dry January, warning that, for people who drink regularly, a sudden stop could be jolting.
People who drink plenty and often typically have worse sleep quality, because alcohol tampers with our brain’s system of releasing ‘sleepy’ chemicals. But, in the short term, heavy drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia and stress.
“The first couple nights when you stop drinking, you may have difficulty sleeping,” Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, director of psychiatry at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told WTOP. “That’s a common problem that people have when they stop drinking, they get insomnia.”
Dr. Maria Yuabova, a registered nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the City University of New York, suggests taking a less severe approach, or easing into it.
“Don’t abstain completely, and focus on replenishing your nutrients after drinking,” Yuabova told Insider.
“People who drink heavily lose lots of nutrients in their brain, and they need to detoxify. Focus on why you are doing it, and do it smart.”
Focus on being mindful instead of going cold turkey or overdoing it
Restrictive diets of any kind tend to backfire, health experts warn.
“When restricting any food or beverage within the diet it has the potential to create food fear and unhealthy habits,” registered dietitian Taylor Sutton, founder of Taylor Your Table, told Insider.
“Depending on current alcohol intake, everyone reacts differently when cutting it out or adjusting down. Some may notice mental shifts, change in hunger and thirst cues, and weight fluctuations.”
Sutton advises clients that they’re more likely to stick with a plan and avoid accidental binge-drinking if they aren’t overwhelmed by restrictions.
“I do not advise clients to cut out any food or beverage group unless they are intolerant or allergic. Rather, find a sustainable lifestyle choice that they enjoy and is maintainable.”