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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019

7 unexpected advantages of cutting down on drinking - from adults who’ve done it themselves 

‘My quality of sleep is so much better.’

Image: Shutterstock/Liderina

IF YOU’VE EVER woken up feeling worse for wear after a night of drinking, you’ll be well aware that less alcohol can definitely be a good thing.

But a lack of hangover definitely isn’t the only positive effect of reducing your alcohol intake.

We asked adults who’ve cut down their drinking to share some other advantages they experienced along the way, including the ones that took them totally by surprise…

1. It’s easier to wake up during the week: Over Christmas 2018 I really felt like I was drinking too much, and I noticed I was able to drink quite a lot without feeling it. I wanted to give my body a break so I’ve cut down on my drinking, for January to begin with and hopefully beyond.

The biggest thing I always notice when I have even a week or two without alcohol is more energy. Those mornings when you wake up after even one glass of wine, and you think you’re just tired because it’s Thursday… the wine definitely has something to do with it! Lately I feel much more refreshed waking up and don’t get the same groggy feeling.

- Rosie

shutterstock_218935510 Source: Shutterstock/Dark Moon Pictures

2. I can tell straight away if food doesn’t agree with me: I decided to cut down on my drinking about six months ago. I felt like alcohol wasn’t aiding me in any way when I socialised, instead it was just making me tired or taking me in a direction I didn’t want to go in.

One positive result I hadn’t really anticipated is that I began to better understand how the food I was eating affected my energy levels. It’s easier now to figure out how my body responds to certain foods, especially salty and sugary things. When you’re hungover, you’re too busy feeling hungover to notice if the food you’re eating is making you feel bad.

- Shaun

3. I lost weight without trying: For me there was no rock bottom or problem, my motivation in changing my attitude to alcohol was to be fitter, faster, healthier, more productive at work and most importantly to be a better dad and husband.  

When you drink less you get consistent. For the first time in my life I could train and eat healthily without my best intentions being destroyed by a night out. Morning after anxiety and the ‘just-not-right’ feeling vanished. Suddenly I was exercising daily and eating really well just because I felt like it. Without trying I lost three stone in weight and my body fat dropped from 35 per cent to below 10 per cent where it is today. 

- Andy

chuttersnap-510109-unsplash Source: Unsplash

4. I now look forward to having a single drink: I’m a pretty all or nothing, black and white kind of person so when I knew I needed to make a change to my drinking habits, I just called it and decided that I’d only drink on Fridays and Saturdays. Do I break my own rule on occasion? Yes, but it’s a considered choice when I do.

My attitude to alcohol has changed. I now look forward to a single drink instead of a night of drinking, and consider which one I want like a kid in a sweet shop being allowed buy one thing. I enjoy it consciously and take my time to savour it. 

- Dave 

5. My sleep has improved (and I take my makeup off…)

The main motivation behind my decision to drink less was to protect my mental health. I find when I drink I’m prone to bad anxiety, panic attacks and trouble sleeping, particularly when I drink heavily. I was finding myself awake half the night having panic attacks.

When alcohol isn’t involved, I definitely get way better sleep, not only from the lack of panic but also from the lack of waking up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom or with a headache in the morning. I’m also far more likely to fall asleep in PJs with my makeup off and contacts out if I have been sober going to bed the night before, which also improves my sleep and how I feel when I wake up. I’m far more likely to get up early for a walk or a yoga class. 

- Hannah

shutterstock_411246616 Source: Shutterstock/Joe Besure

6. I can get more done: Around two and a half years ago, my partner was experiencing stomach issues which he suspected may have been irritated by alcohol, so we said we’d do a 30 day trial with no drinking to see if it helped. I’ve kept it up ever since.

Within weeks of making the change, I was much more productive, and my energy levels went up. Weekends were spent outdoors instead of dragging myself around town with a faint headache and a desire for bedtime. Since then I have painted the house, finished a diploma, done a triathlon, run a sub-50-minute 10k race, still go out, and have learned a huge amount about myself while doing it all. I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

- Kate

7. I can dedicate Sunday to the kids: I was never someone who regularly consumed alcohol, but I did have my share of big nights.

For the last three years I’ve made a concerted effort to drink less. Sundays are definitely the days when I really notice the positive effects of cutting down on alcohol. There’s more time to spend with my kids (they were 11 and 12 when I decided to make a change). I don’t lose Sunday after a night out on Saturday. We can fit loads into the day.

- Pat

Drink less, gain more. Cutting back on alcohol can improve your health and make you feel better, physically and mentally. Find out more about the benefits of drinking less, plus tips to help you stay on track, at askaboutalcohol.ie. 

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