12 reasons to take a break from alcohol

Thinking about taking an alcohol hiatus but unsure how you’ll survive without your evening glass of vino? This may just be the incentive you need.

Research from the University of Sussex shows abstaining from booze for just a month can have benefits that last well past the 30-day finishing line.

Here are 13 excellent reasons to give it a go.

1. You’ll probably drink less in the long term

Study leader Dr Richard de Visser says the simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term.

Of the more than 800 people he surveyed, many were still reporting an extra dry day a week even six months later.

And that went for those who didn’t stay alcohol-free for the whole month, although to a lesser extent.

“This shows there are benefits to just trying,” he says.

2. You’ll save money

An impressive 88 per cent of those in the UK study reported saving money during their month off.

3. It might make you smarter

UK research has found even moderate alcohol consumption could impact cognition. Those who drank just over seven alcoholic beverages a week were found to have high iron levels in a part of the brain where elevated iron is linked to poorer cognitive performance.

4. If you’re under 40, there are no health gains

It may not come as a shock, but drinking alcohol offers no health benefits for people under 40 – only risks – according to an analysis from the Global Burden of disease.

According to the review, 59.1 per cent of people aged between 15-39 drank alcohol in unsafe amounts in 2020.

5. It might be ageing you faster

Just two alcoholic drinks a day could speed up the brain’s ageing process according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania.

The study found going from drinking just one to two alcoholic beverages a day is linked to changes in the brain researchers say is the equivalent of ageing two whole years.

6. You’ll sleep better

Seven in 10 people reported sleeping better.

Even moderate drinking disrupts the body’s sleep cycle, and you also need to go to the loo more.

In fact, researchers found even a few drinks in the late afternoon (“happy hour”),  can disrupt sleep, even though alcohol is no longer in the brain at bedtime.

7. Your energy levels will increase

After a decent night’s shut-eye leads you’ll feel more refreshed in the morning, and probably happier and more optimistic about your day.

Dr de Visser says 67 per cent of people reported more energy and 57 per cent better concentration after a dry month.

8. You may lose weight

If a fatter wallet and a fitter you aren’t enough, research shows you may stand to lose weight by banishing beer and bubbles for a month.

Not only will you be cutting the carbs you’re drinking, but all those salty, sugary, tasty snacks we tend to indulge in at the same time.

9. Your five senses will be sharper

Drinking too much dulls the senses so without alcohol food should taste and smell better.

Your hearing will be sharper and your eyesight clearer. Even your sense of touch should benefit.

10. Your insides will thank you

Over-indulging in booze doesn’t only impact the outside of your body but your insides as well, resulting in issues ranging from high blood pressure to cardiovascular and liver disease.

Giving your system time to reset and reboot will do wonders for the inner-you.

11. Your skin will improve

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it dehydrates the skin and body tissue.

More than half those surveyed in the UK study reported better skin – so get ready to rock a healthy glow!

12. Losing the booze could help you quit smoking

New research from Oregon State University has found heavy drinkers who are trying to quit smoking may find that reducing their alcohol intake can also help them say goodbye to nicotine.

13. Bye-bye hangovers

You can never accuse us of not saving the best for last.

For anyone who has ever craved fried food the morning after a big night, this has to be the icing on the cake.

Written by Liz McGrath. Updated by Bianca Carmona September 2021.