January 18, 2023

Health experts explain benefits of Dry January

Dr. Scott Winder is quoted in the Detroit Free Press.

Read the original article on the Detroit Free Press website.


Better sleep, clear mind

Gerald Scott Winder, an associate clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at U-M Health Michigan Medicine, said the top three benefits of Dry January are:

  • You are more clear in the head.
  • Your mood is better and your worries are less.
  • Sleep is better.

"Those are the risks of too much alcohol," Winder said. "I don’t sleep well; I am foggy and I worry too much."

Dry January is also about people understanding how they relate to alcohol, Winder said.

"It's a deeper understanding of how I feel and what I do," he said. "If anything can muddy that up, it’s alcohol. It numbs us … changes how we think."

Once you cut down on that, he said, you are more lucid and more present and invested more in the conversation. Sometimes making one change, he said, is a "jump-start to other changes" and "making a behavioral change to one part can spread like wildfire," he said.

It's also knowing what the standard drink consumption is that can help you understand your relationship with alcohol. The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines limit intakes to one drink for women and two drinks for men or less on any day.

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking as more than three drinks for women on any day or more than seven drinks per week. For men, it's consuming more than four drinks on any day and 14 drinks in a week.

Winder said alcohol is also a risk factor for a variety of cancers, it's a source of calories as Americans are very obese, and large amounts of alcohol upset the liver and pancreas.

And after COVID-19 and the isolation many experienced, there was an increase in excessive alcohol.