Alcohol Awareness Month: 4 Benefits Of Fasting From Drinking

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Apr. 25 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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According to research, 63 percent of American adults who consume alcohol, and people who drink are reported to have higher blood pressure, higher levels of cortisol, and higher levels of anxiety than those who don’t drink.

Many millennials are turning away from alcohol (or at least considering it) as part of the “sober curious” movement. Per a 2023 report, 73 percent of millennials surveyed indicated they “closely/occasionally follow or are interested in trying a sober curious lifestyle as it aligns with priorities, like health and wellness.”

Cutting alcohol from your diet can be a positive move for your physical and mental health. For Alcohol Awareness Month, we explore the benefits of fasting from alcohol and how the act can improve your overall health and well-being:

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1. Better Sleep

According to North Star Behavior Health, “One of the immediate physical benefits of quitting alcohol is better sleep. Within just a few days of abstaining from alcohol, many individuals experience improved sleep patterns and find themselves waking up feeling more rested.”

When you get poor sleep from drinking, it can affect your mental health, states the Mental Health Foundation. That’s why sleep is vital to good health and well-being throughout your life.

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Alcohol will put you to sleep, but it’s almost unlikely you’ll get a whole night’s rest after a night out. Alcohol suppresses REM—or dream—sleep and arouses you later at night, notes Hackensack Meridian Health. You’re supposed to have anywhere from 5 to 7 REM cycles in 8 hours of sleep; however, alcohol lessens the amount of REM you’ll get because of the increase in cortisol and adrenaline in your system. This leads to poor-quality sleep and low daytime energy, which affects your mental health as you become sleepy and irritable. In some cases, this can lead to poor decisions, like eating unhealthy and not moving your body.

2. All-Around Mood Improvement

Alcohol majorly affects our brain chemistry. That’s why when you drink, alcohol increases the body’s production of dopamine and serotonin, making you feel less anxious and more happy. However, this is only a temporary feeling. “In the longer term, the body becomes used to the dopamine boosts it’s getting from alcohol and starts making less dopamine to compensate,” says “That means that if drinking becomes a habit, we may become dopamine-deficient, and this could contribute to us experiencing low mood.”

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When we fast from alcohol, we don’t have to worry about all of the alterations to our brains—our dopamine levels and serotonin production return to normal. When these natural body chemicals are stabilized, our mood is controlled, and we won’t experience high highs or low lows. Alcohol cessation may also reduce stressful life events, such as conflict within the family, difficulties in employment and legal troubles, resulting in improved mental well-being,” according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

3. Decreased Effects Of Depression And Anxiety

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According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Alcohol is a depressant, which can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in your brain and affect your feelings, thoughts and behavior.” That’s why if you’ve ever experienced an increase in anxiety following a night out drinking, also known as ‘hangxiety,’ it makes sense, as the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter disappears and no longer makes us feel calm.

Plus, alcohol can be a sedative. So, while it may temporarily numb uncomfortable emotions, it exacerbates those feelings the more you drink, making you feel worse than before consuming. 

4. Liver Function Recovery Aid

Out of all the body’s organs, the liver takes the biggest hit when it comes to alcohol. “Of the 98,457 liver disease deaths among people ages 12 and older in 2022, 46.0% involved alcohol,” states the National Institute of Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol and the liver have a direct relation as the liver breaks down most of the alcohol in the body so that it can be removed properly.

Research shows that when a person stops drinking alcohol, liver fat levels reduce, as well as inflammation and scarring. While your liver detox timeline depends on how much alcohol you consume, age, and weight, your liver will likely begin to reset and heal. The changes can include reduced brain fog, increased energy, stabilized weight, and many more.

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Nikki Chwatt Photo
By: Nikki Chwatt

Nikki Chwatt is a New York-based freelance fashion and beauty writer who covers stories on the latest makeup, skin-care, clothing, accessories, and shoe buys for women and men. Her writing has also appeared in publications such as WWD, Footwear News, and Editorialist. When Nikki's not writing, you can find her practicing pilates, scouring the internet for unique fashion finds, and reading powerful romance novels.

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