The countdown is on: 48 hours until your New Year’s Resolutions kick in and you’re staring down the barrel of what are likely some serious health-related choices you’ve sworn to start making. At the top of our list is to take a break from alcohol. The holidays had us guzzling egg nog like water and we’re pushing through for one more night to get to the other side. And while a resolution to drink less, or to have a “dry January,” is mostly fueled by a desire to lose the fat that’s suddenly hanging over the top of our jeans, it turns out that there are way more benefits to cutting out the hooch. In fact, Ruby Warrington, this week’s member of The Select Set wrote a whole book on how good it is for you, so we asked her to give us the top seven benefits of not drinking. And they have us thinking maybe this might actually be more of a permanent thing (I mean, orgasmic sleep? Less cellulite?) … We’ll keep you posted.
If you’re planning a Dry January as a post-holiday detox, it will likely find you looking and feeling better than ever. So why stop there? My new book, Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on The Other Side of Alcohol, is an invitation to question — meaning literally get curious about — every impulse and expectation to drink, versus reaching for a glass on autopilot. When you’re honest with yourself, answering questions about overall impact of booze on your wellbeing, and whether the inevitable hangovers are really worth it for the “highs,” will likely mean you wind up drinking less, if at all. Here are seven amazing benefits of cutting out alcohol for good.
— Ruby Warrington
1. Orgasmic Sleep
What I call the kind of deep, uninterrupted sleep where you wake up feeling so satisfied, you can’t wipe the smile off your face. Considering the way even just one drink can mess with our natural sleep cycles, making it harder to slip into the most deeply restorative REM sleep, getting sober curious will guarantee you wake up feeling more rested and with more natural energy, night after night.
2. A Calm Gut
Like many women, I suffered from IBS symptoms throughout my 20s and 30s (also my heaviest drinking years), which persisted no matter what dietary changes I made. I stopped eating meat, tried cutting out gluten and dairy, and invested in medical-grade probiotics — but it was only after I stopped drinking that my gut calmed down for good. As well as removing the toxin of alcohol itself, I attribute this to feeling less stressed as a non-drinker, as looking back I think a lot of my gut issues were linked to emotional stressors.
3. Less Cellulite
I interviewed celebrity personal trainer Shona Vertue for Sober Curious, who told me that her clients are often willing to do anything to get the body they want — except quit drinking (which speaks volumes for our emotional attachments to booze). Vertue confirms however, that in no circumstances, ever, would she suggest any amount of alcohol as part of a health and wellness regime, and also told me that one of the physical benefits of quitting is dramatically reduced cellulite, especially on the backs of the legs.
4. Better Skin
Meaning less breakouts, less redness, and less puffiness — all side effects of a night out drinking, thanks to the overall toxicity and dehydrating effects of alcohol, while booze disrupting a person’s sleep will also lead to puffy eyes and dark circles. Just ask my friend Mia Mancuso—a.k.a. @thesoberglow.
5. Better Sex
Considering alcohol plays a role in 91% of casual hookups, this might seem counterintuitive. But as one friend I also quote in Sober Curious puts it: “it’s ironic how we all drink to have more sex, and then the sex is s*it.” And anyway, when did more sex equal better sex? Whether single or in a relationship, the fact that alcohol is also the leading predictor of sexual dysfunction for both sexes (leading to erectile dysfunction in men and difficulty achieving orgasm in women), cutting out booze will ultimately lead to more connected and satisfying sexual encounters.
6. Happier Relationships
See above. Not to mention that when you’re less tired, have a happy gut and are able to stick to your overall #wellnessgoals, you’re going to be far less reactive and more accepting of others’ differences. Many of us also use alcohol as a fast-track to connection but bonding over booze means you’re not really 100% present. Connecting with another person sober means being vulnerable and risking emotional intimacy, leading to deeper, more real and rewarding relationships.
7. Feeling Like “I Got This”
In Sober Curious I write about what I call “the confidence paradox” of drinking — the fact that many of us drink to feel more confident, when in fact outsourcing our confidence to booze means we never get to build real self-assurance in ourselves. Removing alcohol can mean confronting a lot of our social insecurities, our work stress and our family pressures, for example, head-on, which is ultimately how we become more confident in our innate ability to handle whatever throws at us.
Ruby Warrington is a British lifestyle writer and former features editor of the U.K. Sunday Times Style supplement. She is the creator of The Numinous, an online magazine that bridges the gap between the mystical and the mainstream, and the cofounder of “sober curious” event series Club SÖDA NYC and Moon Club, an online mentoring program for spiritual activists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Simon.