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Posted: January 04, 2018

What is Dry January? Taking a break from alcohol can improve sleep and weight, study says

Carl Court/Getty Images

By Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The holiday season is officially over, and many are now looking at their New Year’s resolutions, which may include maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

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To get a head start, some are participating in Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol. But how effective is it?

Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a study, published in Health Psychology, to find out. 

They examined more than 850 individuals who gave Dry January a try. They then followed up with a questionnaire one month later and another six months later.

>> Related: Just one drink a day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns

After analyzing the results, they found that after six months, participants said they drank less and were not getting drunk as much.

In fact, 72 percent of the subjects had maintained lower levels of harmful drinking and 4 percent were still not drinking after six months.

After just one month, about 62 percent reported having better sleep, 62 percent said they had more energy and 49 percent experienced weight loss.

>> Related: Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

The changes were also seen for those who did not make it to the end of the challenge. “Even if participants took part but didn’t successfully complete the 31 days, it generally led to a significant decrease across all the measures of alcohol intake,” Richard de Visser said in a statement.

The scientists believe their findings prove the challenge can be used to help reduce drinking long-term, added Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, a U.K. charity to combat alcohol harm.

“This research,” she said, “is the proof of how, with the help, advice and support we offer throughout the month, our model can really change behaviour and reduce drinking.”

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