I don’t have to tell you that pretty much everywhere we go these days in a social setting, alcohol is present. Whether it be Miller Lite at a family gathering, Pinot Grigio at your friend’s wedding, or cocktails at the bar on the weekend, drinks are always available and present in our lives. But even those one or two drinks you may be having a couple of times a week may be worth giving up, because they may be doing more damage to your health than you realize.
Here are nine reasons to consider giving up drinking, even if just for a short period of time.
Number one, and probably the most obvious, is hangovers. No one enjoys having one and they can be downright miserable. There’s a saying that “drinking is just borrowing happiness from tomorrow,” and in this case, it seems to hold very true. No one wants to wake up in the morning feeling headachey, dehydrated and completely unmotivated. It’s not fun or healthy.
2. Sleep Problems
Drinking can cause a whole slew of issues for your sleep schedule. It prevents you from being able to reach REM sleep, which helps us with memory retention, balancing your hormones, and regulating your mood. Without it, we’d be slower to learn and recall facts, and probably feeling pretty cranky. It can also interrupt your circadian rhythm and potentially create breathing problems.
3. Weight Gain
All of the drinks you can order at your local bar or favorite restaurant are usually packed with calories, and none of them are providing you any nutritional benefits. The average beer contains 153 calories, a glass of wine is about 125 calories, and an average margarita is a whopping 254 per serving. Drinking can also slow your metabolism. You’re also going to be more likely to indulge in food you normally may not.
Alcohol dehydrates you, which can cause a multitude of unwanted side effects in your body. Dehydration causes ailments as small as darker urine than usual and dry skin, to dizziness, muscle cramps, and fainting. You can try to compensate for this by drinking a few glasses of water between or after drinks, but I personally think the risks outweigh the benefits.
5. Reduced Cognitive Abilities
This is one of the scarier ones for me. It’s been proven in studies that alcohol can reduce your cognitive function, even in moderation. Have you ever had too much to drink and blacked out, or not remembered last nights events when you woke up?
This is a short term effect of too much alcohol consumption, but long term the side effects can be very dangerous. Long term heavier drinkers can experience short term memory loss, along with other scary illnesses.
If you already suffer from an anxiety disorder, alcohol can end up worsening the problem in the long run. You know how sometimes if you feel anxious or on edge, if you have a drink, it seems to ease it a bit? That’s because alcohol acts as a depressant to your Central Nervous System. This is a problem though, because once your body has metabolized the alcohol and it’s effects have worn off, you may end up feeling more anxious than you did before. It’s also worth mentioning that if you take any medications for a mental health condition, alcohol should be avoided altogether if possible, because it can change the effects of your medications.
7. Heart Damage
According to The American College of Cardiology, alcohol increases risk of all kinds of heart disease, including heart attack and atrial fibrillation. In the short term, while drinking, your blood pressure and heart rate both increase. Long term, there’s a great risk there.
Drinking is known to be the cause of multiple types of cancer. Most obviously, alcohol is metabolized through the liver, so liver cancer is a risk; but it can also cause throat cancer, breast cancer, and esophageal cancers, among others. This is much more common to be seen in heavy drinkers who have been drinking for a long period of time, but it is definitely worth noting.
9. Weakened Immune System
A lack of hydration, lack of nutrients, lack of sleep; it’s the recipe for a weaker immune system. It’s been shown that alcohol can reduce the number of white blood cells in your body. If you already have any existing health conditions, or if you’re prone to the common cold or sinus infection, this would be especially detrimental.
10. To Test Your Own Willpower
You absolutely can have fun and enjoy your night without having a drink or two. If you regularly drink on the weekend or socially with friends, maybe try a month without a drink. You may end up seeing more differences in yourself than you had imagined. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt you to give it a shot.