Alcohol is a big part of our culture, and can be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle if we practice moderation.
Many people don’t always know how much alcohol they drink and whether their drinking has an impact on their health. You can take drinkaware’s self-assessment questionnaire to identify if your relationship with alcohol is about right, or if the amount you drink is risky to your health.
If you have identified that your level of drinking may be affecting your health, there are lots of benefits to cutting down on alcohol consumption.
Benefits to Cutting Down
Some people find it helps them drop off, but alcohol affects the quality of your sleep. When you drink too much, you spend less of the night in a deep, restorative slumber. You’re also more likely to wake early and find it hard to drop off again. Now that you’re cutting back, you should notice your sleep improving. That can have a knock-on benefit for everything from your mood to your ability to concentrate.
If you’re already feeling sad or anxious, alcohol is likely to make it much worse. The day after you've been drinking heavily you are likely to feel pretty low. This is because drinking too much interferes with the neurotransmitters in our brains, so alcohol can affect your mental health. Drinking less can mean that you feel happier, more of the time1. Try keeping a mood diary to see if you notice the difference.
Alcohol can interfere with your immune system making it harder to fight off bugs. And with its negative effects on your sleep and mood, drinking too much can make you feel tired, sluggish and generally a bit under the weather. Drink less and it shouldn’t take too long before you notice that you have more energy.
You don’t have to have a headache and be feeling sick for alcohol to start affecting you at work, regularly drinking above the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines (no more than 14 units per week for men and women) will affect your concentration and ability to work. Now that you’re cutting back, you may spot you work that little bit smarter, which can do wonders for your stress levels – and your career.
Alcohol dehydrates your skin making it appear dull and grey. Add some dark circles and bags under your eyes from a lack of decent sleep and you’ll look less than your best. Thankfully, skin is quick to react to changes so it could be looking better after just a couple of days of drinking less.
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and can be seriously fattening. Cut out just one pint a day for a week and you’ll have consumed close to 1,500 less calories. It won’t be long before your jeans start feeling a bit looser.
A Happier Stomach
By drinking less you could get rid of complaints such as diarrhoea and indigestion. This is because alcohol irritates the stomach and makes it produce more acid than usual, which can in turn cause gastritis (the inflammation of the stomach lining)
More Time and Money
If you tend to drink in the same place, or at the same time, or with the same people, cutting back may mean you change your routine. By doing something different with your time you could discover other interests and meet new people. Keep a note of the money you save on alcohol and use it to treat yourself.
Better Long-Term Health
Cutting down on alcohol will reduce your risk of developing cancer, liver or heart disease and could lower your blood pressure. You may not be able to see the difference you’re making, but by drinking within the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines, you can be confident you’re doing your body a massive favour.
You can find practical, everyday tips to help you cut down your drinking here.
- Alcohol Change UK have lots of resources including alcohol factsheets and tips for cutting down.
- Drink Coach have a free app which features a range of tools proven to help you reduce your drinking.
- If you think you may have a more serious problem with drinking that is affecting your everyday life, you can visit the NHS Alcohol Support Page.
- CHART Kirklees provide a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults in Kirklees