Yerba Mate and Sleep – Should You Drink it Before Bedtime?

Yerba mate tea is an energizing herbal tea that contains plenty of caffeine. I often use it to boost my energy levels before doing physical exercise or to work more effectively.

But what is going to happen if you drink some mate tea late in the evening? Can you still sleep well?

The short answer is that the caffeine in yerba mate might prevent you from falling asleep. But even if you manage to sleep, it can affect your sleep quality negatively.

Then why are some people saying that drinking mate helps them relax? Or even makes them sleep better?

This topic clearly requires a more thorough discussion. So let’s take a proper look at how yerba mate affects our brain and sleeping.

How Yerba Mate Affects Sleep

The stimulating effect of mate tea is mainly due to the fact that yerba mate leaves are naturally rich in caffeine. But there are a few other interesting compounds as well.

Caffeine

The caffeine content of yerba mate tea depends on several factors including:

  • Type and amount of yerba mate leaves you use to prepare it
  • How hot is the water that you use for brewing it
  • How long you let it brew

When you prepare mate tea the traditional way using a gourd, bombilla, and loose leaf yerba mate, it can be quite strong.

On the other hand, using yerba mate tea bags will give you a much milder infusion.

Thus, the amount of caffeine per 8 oz of mate tea can range anywhere between 30 mg to 180 mg.

For comparison, a cup of coffee contains about 120 mg of caffeine.

The average caffeine content of yerba mate, coffee, black tea, and green tea

How much yerba mate increases your energy levels depends mainly on 3 things:

  • How you prepare your mate tea
  • How much you drink
  • What is your tolerance for caffeine

Other Stimulating Ingredients

In addition to caffeine, yerba mate tea contains theobromine and theophylline. That is one of the reasons why its effect differs from coffee.

Although theobromine and theophylline are considered stimulants, in small amounts they also have a relaxing effect.

This is why yerba mate tea has a stimulating and calming effect at the same time. It also doesn’t cause jitteriness and anxiety the same way that coffee might.

My Experience of Drinking Yerba Mate Late in the Evening

I have been drinking yerba mate frequently for almost 20 years. So I have plenty of experience on the topic.

Usually, I avoid drinking caffeinated beverages after 6 pm for the obvious reason — caffeine is a stimulant that gives you energy and makes you more alert.

However, there are some occasions when I have drunk plenty of mate as late as 10 pm. More often than not, it has prevented me from falling asleep for many hours.

drinking yerba mate before going to bed

I’m not very sensitive to caffeine but drinking about 1 liter (34 oz) of yerba mate gives me a nice energy boost.

There have been times that I felt tired but had to complete a work project before the next day. So the solution was just that — plenty of strong mate tea.

Yeah, I got the job done alright. But didn’t fall asleep until 4 am.

Other times when I had just a small amount of mate in the evening I didn’t notice any effect on my sleep.

Research About Yerba Mate and Sleep Quality

Now that I have told about my personal experience of drinking mate late at night, let’s see what scientific research has been conducted on this topic.

Unfortunately, there are not many studies about yerba and sleep.

A study from 2013 focused on the consumption of stimulating beverages and sleep quality. The study indicates that all stimulating drinks have a negative effect on sleep quality. Energy drinks were the worst and yerba mate and coffee seemed to have a similar effect.

However, this is just one study and it didn’t take into account if the stimulating drinks were consumed in the morning or in the evening.

Yerba Mate and Sleep FAQ

Can Yerba Mate Help with Lucid Dreaming?

Lucid dreaming means that you are asleep and dreaming but at the same time aware that you are sleeping. Lucid dreams are often vivid and happen during the REM sleep phase.

There is no evidence that yerba mate would have any kind of effect on lucid dreaming. However, mate has a stimulating effect on our brains and it is possible that this can induce lucid dreaming.

Does Yerba Mate Help You Sleep?

Some people might say that yerba mate helps them relax and sleep better.

While this is possible, for most people its effect is the opposite. The caffeine in mate tea can make it harder to fall asleep and impact the quality of sleep negatively.

Should You Drink Yerba Before Going to Bed?

In general, it is not recommended to drink yerba mate late in the evening or right before going to sleep. However, we are all individuals and the effect of different substances can be different on each of us.

If you are not sensitive to caffeine, drinking a small amount of mate in the evening might not cause any negative effect on sleep.

Final Thoughts

Yerba mate is a healthy herbal tea that has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of South America. It is valued for its medicinal properties and capability to increase mental awareness and cognitive performance.

Although I love mate tea and drink it almost every day, I don’t recommend consuming it late in the evening. For most people, there is a high risk of having sleeping problems.

But the only way to find out how it affects your sleep is to try it yourself.

Enjoy your yerba mate and sleep well!

-Joonas

PS. If you are looking for something to help you relax and rest better, read my article with the best teas for sleeping.

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