How Dry January Can Negatively Affect Sleep Quality & What To Do

Alcohol—especially when consumed within a few hours of bedtime—can dampen sleep quality due to the way it’s processed in the body.

“The problem is that as alcohol metabolizes through your body, it can suppress the REM sleep, rapid-eye-movement sleep, which is the part of sleep where dreams mostly occur. It’s also really important for things like memory consolidation, learning, and emotional processing,” Wendy M. Troxel, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist, explains to mbg.

She adds that since alcohol is a diuretic, drinking it before bed can make you need to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night—leading to what’s known as “sleep fragmentation,” or disrupted sleep. All these factors can contribute to that groggy, tired, dreamless feeling that sometimes comes after a night of drinking, even in moderation.

Therefore, if all else stays the same, avoiding alcohol for a month should lead to improvements in overall sleep quality. And indeed, there is research to show that the majority of moderate drinkers tend to report deeper sleep and more energy after a go-round with Dry January.

But this year, in particular, the impact of giving up booze might not be so cut and dried.

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