Health and Wellness

This journalist and author of 'The Dry Challenge' participated in Sober October 4 times. Here’s how it benefitted her sleep, overall health

Courtesy of Lisa Richov

You've probably heard of Dry January, but what about Sober October?

People all across the country use the month of October to dedicate 31 days to being alcohol-free.

Not only do participants experience the general clarity that comes with being sober, but many also see some physical and mental health benefits as well.

While this might be the first dry fall season for some, it's not for Hilary Sheinbaum who has committed to Sober October four times.

Sheinbaum, author of "The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month," has removed alcohol from her diet at least one full month each year since 2017.

She always participates in Dry January, will sometimes practice Sober October, or will choose whichever month feels right to her.

With countless sober months under her belt, Sheinbaum says she's experienced benefits like better sleep and clearer skin.

Here's how Sheinbaum says a month (or two) of no drinking every year has affected her health.

Health benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption

In 2017, after years of being a reporter on many red carpets, with access to VIP events and open bars, Sheinbaum and a close friend competed in a high-stakes bet: no alcohol for one month.

The winner got dinner from the restaurant of their choice, while the loser footed the bill.

Sheinbaum won the bet before the 31 days were up, but the free meal wasn't her only takeaway.

"The real realization was how alcohol was impacting my day-to-day life and my overall general health," she tells CNBC Make It.

"Of course, I wasn't drinking every day. But having the ability to go through that and reflect and really see the change was so impactful."


Before participating in her first dry month, Sheinbaum attributed her unfulfilling sleep to odd work hours, a hectic schedule and stress.

"As a busy New Yorker, who still kind of runs on adrenaline sometimes, I thought I was just a really terrible sleeper," she says.

She went from getting four and a half or five hours of sleep a night in December to seven or eight hours during her first dry January.

"The only thing that I changed was [consuming] less alcohol," Sheinbaum says. "I was doing the same workouts, I had the same amount of work and obviously the weather was the same."

These are a few of the sleep benefits she experienced:

  • Ability to sleep through the night
  • Feeling less irritable in the morning
  • Waking up more rested

"If you are exhausted, you're going to be less productive [and] you're going to be less happy," she says. "It affects your entire day."

General health

Here are some of the other health benefits Sheinbaum observed during her dry months:

  • Improved skin health: Within the first 10 days of her first dry month, she noticed a major difference in her skin. It appeared more "glowy" and felt less dehydrated when she cut alcohol out of her diet.
  • Positive mental health due to financial security: Buying drinks in the city was a very expensive habit to maintain. Sheinbaum was able to cut back some of her expenses by reducing her alcohol intake.
  • Increased physical safety: Requesting Ubers and Lyfts after social gatherings felt a lot more safe when she was sober. She worried less about how she was getting home when she participated in Sober October or Dry January.
  • Better diet: Sheinbaum cut out empty calories and excess sugar when she committed to no alcohol. She also found herself a lot less likely to purchase unhealthy snacks when she was sober.

If you're sober curious, trying a dry month could be a great place to start.

And participating doesn't mean that you can't see your friends in social settings because mocktails and other alcohol-free drinks have become increasingly more available in bars and restaurants, says Sheinbaum.

"The non-alcoholic beverage space has evolved so, so much now," she says, "Really there is something for every palette."

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