Committed to a dry January? Here are some tips to stay motivated

By Ashley Welch

/ CBS News

If you're one of the many Americans who's pledged to abstain from alcohol for the month of January, you're doing your health a favor. But the commitment to a "dry January" can be difficult to maintain as the days roll by – and your social calendar begins filling up.

Experts say it's worth the effort. And abstaining from alcohol for one month at a time can be a more feasible goal than going cold turkey forever.

"Taking a break from alcohol, even for just a short period of time, has several health benefits, not to mention it can save some money," Debbie Petitpain, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CBS News.

Dry January health benefits

For starters, when it comes to your health, a dry January can help improve your sleep.

"Even though alcohol makes you sleepy, it is actually disrupts your circadian rhythm, preventing the body from going into REM sleep, which is when the brain restores itself and makes memories," Petitpain said.

If losing weight was one of your New Year's resolutions, staying away from alcohol can also help there.

"One drink has 100-150 calories before you even add the mixer so abstinence can save you calories which can help with weight loss," Petitpain said.

Drinking alcohol also affects your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other viruses like the flu. Abstaining can help you fight off germs more effectively.

Finally, since alcohol a diuretic and can lead to dehydration, this drying effect can enhance fine lines and wrinkles. Cutting it out may lead to improved skin in a typically dry winter month that can already take a toll on your complexion.

And of course, over the long run, a drinking habit can have much more serious health consequences, increasing the risk of liver disease, heart disease, stroke and several types of cancer.

Dry January tips to help you succeed

So you know a dry January is good for you, but how do you make sure you stick to your commitment? Like any goal, seeing it through can take some planning.

Follow these expert tips to help make your dry January a success.

First published on January 9, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ashley Welch

Ashley Welch covers health and wellness for CBSNews.com

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