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10 Effects of a Dry(ish) January: A Week-by-Week Guide on What Happens to Your Body

10 Effects of a Dry(ish) January: A Week-by-Week Guide on What Happens to Your Body

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Last Updated on January 8, 2024

For many people, the start of a new year is a fresh opportunity to examine and potentially reset their drinking patterns. Why? It’s easy to lose track of your alcohol consumption during the holidays.

Dry(ish) January is a popular reset option. Whether you choose to go sober or reduce your alcohol intake, expect both options to affect your body. 

Fortunately, we have a good idea of how your body will react. We’ve tracked the progress, benefits, and outcomes of the more than 25,000 people who signed up for our 2023 Dry(ish) January challenge. Some participants chose to go completely dry for the month, while others cut back and designated dry days for each week. 

As you reflect on our results at the start of 2024, keep two things in mind: 

  • These results vary from one person to another. Each body is unique and handles alcohol differently. 
  • Your goals for Dry(ish) January might be different from someone else’s. As a result, your experience might differ based on whether you go sober or how much you reduce your intake.

In general, here’s 10 effects you can expect as you take on a Dry(ish) January challenge.

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

Week 1

The first week can be the most difficult. If you drink often, it might help to taper down your alcohol intake week by week instead of going cold turkey. Either way, you might notice the following outcomes: 

#1: Better Sleep 

While alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, its overall effects on sleep are typically detrimental. 

In fact, scientists have found that drinking alcohol near your bedtime could cause you to wake up more often throughout the night. Additionally, it may decrease your sleep duration and increase sleep disturbances [1]

If you’ve relied on alcohol to fall asleep, you may experience a little more difficulty falling asleep initially. But over time, you’ll notice better-quality sleep. You’ll feel more rested and refreshed, making it easier to wake up in the morning.  

Here’s a helpful guide for reducing your alcohol consumption to improve sleep]

#2: Fewer Hangovers 

Have you ever tried crunching numbers and reading work reports with a pounding head and nausea? 

One of the earliest outcomes of Dry(ish) January is a lower risk of hangovers. Fewer hangovers mean you’ll perform better at work or at school. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

#3: Cravings and Irritability

If you drink alcohol regularly, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms in the first week. You might feel irritable, anxious, or restless, and notice a growing urge to drink. 

When cravings hit, try to sit out the urge to drink for as long as you can. These cravings will subside. In the meantime, turn to alternative activities you don’t normally do while drinking, like painting, jogging, or journaling. 

If you suspect you suffer from severe alcohol dependence, seek medical assistance before starting Dry(ish) January. Otherwise, you may experience potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations and abnormally high body temperatures [2]

Read this article now to learn if you suffer from alcohol dependence. 

Week 2

If you meet your consumption goals in week 1, you may notice the following benefits of cutting back in week 2.

#4: Reduced Alcohol Cravings 

As your body acclimates to a drop in alcohol intake, cravings will become easier to resist. But they won’t go away entirely.

Certain drinking triggers can cause cravings to strike. Common examples include specific emotions like sadness and stress, a certain location, or being around that group of friends you often drink with [3]

Reduce your exposure to these triggers, and you’ll increase the odds of overcoming drinking urges successfully.

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

#5: Improved Mood 

You might feel more relaxed and less anxious after having a drink. But once these effects wear off, alcohol may contribute to negative feelings like anger, depression, and anxiety [3]. By limiting your alcohol intake, you’ll reduce alcohol’s impact on your emotions. 

Suppose you tend to use drinking as an emotional crutch. Dry(ish) January is the perfect opportunity to journal, reflect, and learn healthier ways of dealing with negative feelings. 

Read more about drinking less by changing your habits 

Week 3

As you continue to scale back your alcohol consumption, you’ll begin to see the benefits from the first weeks intensify.

#6: Increased Productivity and Focus 

An increase in alertness, mental clarity, and better decision-making can come from better sleep at night and having fewer hangovers in the morning. 

#7: Increased Energy Levels 

Increased energy levels are a common outcome of Dry(ish) January. In the Sunnyside 2023 Dryish January survey, a whopping 64% of participants mentioned they experienced greater energy and focus during the challenge. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

Week 4 

In the final week of your Dry(ish) January challenge, your physical appearance is likely to improve as much as your mental health. 

#8: Improved Skin Complexion 

Some research suggests that alcohol consumption can change your skin’s pH [4]

Additional studies found that excessive alcohol consumption can increase facial lines, under-eye puffiness, and smile lines at the corner of your lips (oral commissures). On top of that, alcohol could make your skin more vulnerable to sunburns and the ageing effects of sunlight [5]

Let’s be clear that stopping or cutting back on drinking for a month might not lead to a significant transformation. In the short term, though, your skin might look more hydrated, smoother, and plumper. You may also see less swelling or puffiness around the eyes and a reduction in inflammation, acne, and skin redness. 

#9: Weight Loss  

Alcohol is packed with empty calories. Because of this, cutting back on your alcohol intake might help you to lose weight

That said, not everyone who scales back or stops drinking will see weight loss. It also depends on other lifestyle factors like diet and exercise. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

#10: Increased Overall Wellness

Participating in a Dry(ish) January challenge could have a domino effect on other health concerns. Based on Sunnyside’s 2023 survey, 46% of participants saw improved fitness habits and 43% improved their diet. 

Once you take control of your drinking, you develop the discipline to take control of other habits that affect your health.

Get Started with Dry(ish) January (and Make the Effects Last)

Dry(ish) January doesn’t have to be a one-month-long challenge. It can be an invitation to a lifetime of mindful drinking. In other words, you determine how alcohol fits into your wellness routine. Alcohol doesn’t have the final say. You do.

That said, such big changes start with small steps. Dry(ish) January often isn’t enough to address problematic drinking and bring about lasting change. February might kick off with alcohol cravings that lead to increased drinking after the challenge ends. 

Sunnyside’s Dryish January challenge emphasises small steps. This challenge allows you to set your own daily goals, whether that’s going sober or scaling back your drinking. And with the Sunnyside’s app, the challenges can continue through February and beyond.

The app grants access to drink-tracking tools, practical tips, and advice from real-life coaches to help you kickstart your mindful drinking journey. Take the 3-min quiz and build your personalized plan.


[1] Park, S. Y., Oh, M. K., Lee, B. S., Kim, H. G., Lee, W. J., Lee, J. H., Lim, J. T., & Kim, J. Y. (2015). The Effects of Alcohol on Quality of Sleep. Korean journal of family medicine, 36(6), 294–299. 

[2] Newman RK, Stobart Gallagher MA, Gomez AE. Alcohol Withdrawal. [Updated 2023 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

[3] Ghiţă, A., Teixidor, L., Monras, M., Ortega, L., Mondon, S., Gual, A., Paredes, S. M., Villares Urgell, L., Porras-García, B., Ferrer-García, M., & Gutiérrez-Maldonado, J. (2019). Identifying Triggers of Alcohol Craving to Develop Effective Virtual Environments for Cue Exposure Therapy. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 74. 

[4] Jang, W.S. & Kim, C.W. & Kim, S.E. & Kim, B.J. & Kim, M.N.. (2010). Effects of alcohol intake on the skin physiology. Korean Journal of Dermatology. 48(11). 948-954.

[5] Goodman, G. D., Kaufman, J., Day, D., Weiss, R., Kawata, A. K., Garcia, J. K., Santangelo, S., & Gallagher, C. J. (2019). Impact of Smoking and Alcohol Use on Facial Aging in Women: Results of a Large Multinational, Multiracial, Cross-sectional Survey. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 12(8), 28–39.

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