Unexpected help…

I don’t know if this will help anybody else, but it’s worth a try.   Yerba mate tea was recommended to me by an alternative doctor.  I didn’t hold out much hope, but decided I’d try it–and it’s really improved my sleep.  For this past month, I’ve taken hardly any Ambien.


There’s a difference of opinion about whether it contains caffeine:  some people say yes, others no;  some say it contains something that’s related to caffeine, called mateine, others say mateine is the same as caffeine.  All I know is that yerba mate gives me about the same lift I get with green tea, only  when I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s much easier to get back to sleep-I don’t wake up with heart pounding and that all-systems-go feeling which I usually have.  My doctor said she’s measured her own bodily responses and found that it produces less cortisol. That’s the thing about caffeine:   that wonderful lift it gives happens because it raises raises blood pressure, speeds the heart, and stimulates the stress system, and the system may not return to resting place so easily, especially if you’re older   Yerba mate seems to be out of my system faster, though there was one day I drank some late in the day and that did seem to interfere with my sleep.

Anyhow, it’s very interesting and definitely worth a try.

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  1. Did you do the whole bit with cured gourd and special “straws” or just chuck in some water, brew, and drink?

    My problem is that I’m afraid of falling victim to cognitive dissonance if there’s lots of fussy details involved.


  2. Hello Gayle I have read your book and actually sent you an e-mail about a week or two ago. I am open to any and everything at this point that has the chance of assisting in normalization of my stages of sleep. I consider myself an anecdotal ‘sleep expert’ as I have been through all of the trials and frustrations that you have. Please check your old e-mail address from Scripps College for the e-mail that I sent you. I am looking into this Yerba mate tea and from what I am reading it seems to help some individuals. We shall see …

  3. One month use not sufficient to recommend regukar use. Side effects may occur after prolonged use – one momth, one year, 5 years etc. As the Matain is arelative of Caffien solar side effects may emerge.

  4. One month use not sufficient to recommend regular use. Side effects may occur after prolonged use – one month, one year, 5 years etc. As the Matain is a relative of Caffien similar side effects may emerge.

  5. One month use not sufficient to recommend regular use. Side effects may occur after prolonged use – one month, one year, 5 years etc. As the Matain is a relative of Caffien similar side effects may emerge.

  6. Hi Gayle, and everyone,

    So I read part of your book in a bookstore, Gayle, and was very moved.
    Then I spilled coffee on it so I had to buy it! Well I read a bit more at home as well, and was more moved. That was a couple years ago.

    I am no insomniac but I suffered (and still do a bit) the very common misery of constant thinking. I want to very humbly and tentatively suggest a book you may have heard of “The power of now” and/or ” a new earth” by E. Tolle. I don’t say this will cure you, but … it may help in some way, it is hard to describe how. All you can do is take a look at it and see if it is meaningful to you, if you hear some truth there deep down
    from a place behind or beneath your thoughts. If you don’t, well, no harm.

    Best wishes. -Joe Johns

  7. Hi Gayle,
    Just a small comment about the issue that needs to be settled: “matein” in yerba mate IS caffein. No doubt.
    Check out:

    I have checked out this site, and it uses sources as trustworthy and competent as modern sciance is able to offer. I also checked Pubmed, a repository of medical literature containg millions of papers and a place I visit daily in my own work. My search retrievd one (!) article using the word “matein” (none using “mateine”), and it states right in the asbtract that it is identical to caffeine. Here is the link:

    None of this is meant to contradict your own experience with yerba mate. To the contrary, it makes me more curious. Do you keep using it? Do you still feel the benefit? As I said before – the trick is to be BOTH sceptical-informed, AND open-minded..:)
    All the best wishes,

  8. I have tried Terba Mate tea as well and had good results. After drinking it I was much calmer and clearer when I laid down. Still I had trouble falling asleep and did not want to have to drink tea every time I went to sleep.
    I did some research on other non invasive methods to improve sleep and stumbled upon this Brain State Technologies . They optimize your brain so your brainwaves are balanced leaving you more clear headed and concise. The process is said to help with sleep and many other issues and they are right. After my 6th session of 10 I slept all the way through the night falling asleep in a matter of minutes instead of the hours of tossing and turning that preceded my previous sleep. Now when I wake up I feel revived and refreshed, if you have any sleep related issue I would suggest looking into this as a solution.

  9. I am sorry to be bringing bad news, but Brain State Technologies is an absolute fake.
    As a professional professional researcher of neural function for many years, I feel confident that there is absolutely no scientific founation to their claims.
    They use the technology of registering brain activity (EEG), used routinely in neurology, psychiatry and brain research. However, their claims of what this technology enables them to do go far beyond anything realistic, or proven.
    First , there is no such thing as “optimized brain waves” True, there are normal and abnormal patterns of EEG, and a study of such patterns may reveal defects or disease processes in your brain. It could for instance be sites of origin for epileptic seizures, sites where some abnormal tissue mass may be present, or you could analyze brain activity during sleep and help define the kind of sleep disturbance in question. This kind of analysis requires a laboratory setting and an expert evaluation, not something that a layperson may be able to do on her/his own after buying a product on the net.
    Secondly, the whole concept of “presenting the brain for itself” by feeding some “optimized frequencies” through a pair of headphones is ridiculous. It has no basis and no connection with what EEG recordings are, and what changing their pattern might mean.
    Finally, you might say: what if it DOES work?? What if I have tried it, and I do sleep better?
    As any experienced insomniac might tell you, and indeed as is also clear from reading this site, there are a large number of things and measures that occasionally, over shorter or longer time periods, may seem to help. For instance, listening to audiotapes is also recommended here on this site, and – apart from the actual narrative content – may also represent feeding a calming, gentle sound to your mind, promoting sleep. As with any other condition, self-suggestion and hope play also a role (professionals call this a placebo effect). Unfortunately, those psychological factors tend to wear off relatively soon.
    Brain State Technologies feeds on the ignorance of an average customer, projecting a marketing image of “science of the brain put to use” to drain your pocket. They pretend to be modern and cutting edge technologically, while throwing such ancient mind-tuning techniques as meditation into the pot, just to make sure they also cover that “segment”. They are nothing more than a high-tech, internet-age, smartly packaged witchcraft. At the end of the process, the only change you will notice will be in your bank statement.

  10. Hi, Gayle! I *loved* your book! It is next to my bed at this moment! It’s great to hear from someone who understands and who doesn’t think I’m depressed. I am trying the Yerba Mate (as of today) and am curious about how much of it you drink, as my insomnia patterns sounds identical to yours. Hope springs eternal…
    many thanks for all the great work you are doing!

  11. Very late to the party, but I read this with interest. I’m a chronic insomniac myself, been down the “warm milk, strict schedule, dark room” road as well as Ambien, Trazadone (the latter is bad stuff, gave me crazy nightmares), Melatonin, you name it.

    I don’t drink a lot of caffeine – just a few cups of tea in the morning – but I am going to try going off the caffeinated beverages entirely, and try yerba mate, if it helped you. I figure if it could help the author of “Insomniac” it could help anyone! Maybe some of us are just more than ordinarily caffeine-sensitive, and it’s not enough for us to keep our consumption to the mornings – we have to eliminate it.

  12. Hi! I came here browsing internet. I grown up in Argentina drinking “mate cocido” (when you brew it like tee) every day on breakfast, and since some years now, drinking after lunch as “mate” (in a gourd -could be any small cup with a metal’s straw with a filter called “bombilla”. The water temperature, the quality of the yerba, the mixes you make, and the amount that you drink, let says it’s not the same a liter than a cup!)mixed with herbs like mint, chamomile, pepermint, orange peels, etc. The mate WILL affect your sleep if you drink it late during the day making it difficult to sleep. Yes, the effect is different than coffee, but some person are very sensible as I prove it with my coworkers!!! I recommend mate IMMEDIATLY after lunch, or for breakfast, but not before bed.

  13. 1. Re Yerba Mate, from what you say I assume you are using it as a substitute for coffee or black/green tea? So it’s not something you take before bed, but early in the day? I am willing to give it a try.
    2. THANK YOU for taking this on. From your blog, your sleep issues sound exactly like me.
    3. Your book “Insomniac” is not on Kindle!!! So I have to read it the hard way with physical pages. Mild complaint.

  14. i am a 45 year old female. i have had always had trouble waking up in the mornings even for school. I just never woke up early. Bot school and work always begin at 8am. Thats the time I feel I can wake up a begin to get ready. Anything time earlier I begin to feel fatigue and muscle tension and more insomnia. I tend to feel more energized as the day wears on. I thought this was because of a reactionary depressive episode in my youth and my twenties. It. was only later that I realized some people have a different circadian rhythm. I have tried all the herbs and vitamins but to nothing worked. Basically stress makes it impossible for me to shut my mind down and relax. Its takes me hours to decompress. I have lost many jobs due to this issue and have tried to take jobs that can give offer me flexibility. I am smart and educated. When I attended college my classes were always at 10am or later so now problem. Now Just before my monthly cycle I barely sleep for three to four days before and its wreaks havoc on my ability to manage stress. Sometimes it feels like torture. I wonder If I will ever feel normal. I realize that stress combined with aging and hormones can really take a toll on your health. Sleep deprivation affects mood and your heart health. I am devastated that I have no ability to control this. Quite honestly xanax and valium in low doses seems to be the only thing that helps. A specialist told me my CNS is damaged and that I have IC which impedes my ability to stay asleep. I have lost income and accomplishments never achieved. It really is biochemical no question. I want to thank you all for listening and letting me vent. Its so difficult and the worst part is you know that no employer will ever understand unless they too have the same issue. As I write this its 12am and I have given up. I would rather be an addict then go through days of insomnia. I just want to work and sleep like a normal human being. With all the brain testing someday after I am dead they may find out why some of us are truly wired so different. I wish you all well and after tossing and turning I just take the darn pill. AT THIS POINT I WANT TO KEEP A JOB AT ALL COST. Sleep is so important for your body and brain. Thats why sleep deprivation is used as form of torture. It breaks your immune system down and your mind. You are not alone. I wish you all were my neighbors then maybe I would not feel so alone. Thanks for listening.

  15. interesting blog you have. however i got suprised reading about the tip you got to drink mate. I know mate myself very well, it is an south american cultural drink, and it is awesome. However, it is no where close a sleep remedie. it will keep you awake, energetic and focused. Mate however, does have healing effects on the human body. It is great for stomach uclers or other stomach problems. Just to catch sleep.. not really. There is certainly theïne inside (which is exactly the same as caffeïne) however, way less agressive on the tummy than coffee. Drinking mate after a day without any sleep might be a good idea though 😉 I do love natural cures though, here you can read my vision http://openmindedlifepath.com/insomnia-cures

  16. I heard that mate makes you awake too but I’d like to try that Yerba mate. I hope it would have same effect to me as it helps you with sound sleeping at night! Thanks for sharing us this…

  17. I wanted to weigh in on the idea of acute versus chronic withdrawals from benzos. My bottom line? I’ll take acute any day of the week. I’m a former Halcion user from way back and withdrawal was, indeed, hell … for a week. However, the withdrawal from Dalmane was worse. Less agonizing on a daily basis yet so unending. I guess it’s an individual thing but I’d rather hurt like hell for a week or two than START withdrawal at week 3 and end God-knows-when. Personally, I’m finding withdrawal from Dalmane to be far, far worse than withdrawal from Halcion. Also, with long-acting benzos, when they stop working, psychiatrists often tend to “supplement” them with a tricyclic or Trazodone which often simply masks the increasing weakness of the long-acting benzo while it is still being consumed. So, in summary, I don’t buy into the greater innocuousness of long-acting benzos.

  18. Everyone will leave comments on what works for them. I will tell you what the cure is, and the reason why the cure is so difficult to find. The cure cannot be found in typical blood tests. Sleeping pills only work for so long because the symptom is, and will always be, stronger than any sleep aid. Doctors make more money prescribing you drugs, suggesting surgeries, than telling you the fix, of which many of them are unaware. If you drink alcohol or caffeine it makes it worse and can keep you up for several days. The cure is Magnesium. You are Magnesium Deficient. Forget everything else that is being said here as suggestions for quick fixes. You need a supplement that will absorb into your body. Most over the counter Magnesium Supplements do not absorb. You need a highly absorb Chelated supplement. If you take a Magnesium supplement and it causes a laxative effect, its the wrong kind. This ladies and gentlemen is the unspoken cure to Insomnia. I am a 3 year chronic insomniac, once up for 5 days straight, sun up, sun down. I found the right supplement and within three days cured. Forget all these random suggestions. Begin doing research on Magnesium Deficiency, of which only a mineral test would reveal, and you will find your cure has been here all along.

  19. There are alternatives to caffeine which don’t cause insomnia. I used to drink coffee everyday, which was very bad for my digestion, teeth, and ADHD. So have you found freedom from insomnia yet? Judging from the fact that this is your last post for a long while maybe you have moved on and become a good sleeper! What I did was cut out sugar, caffeine, and blue light. Now at least I can sleep well for 8 hours the same time every night. Next I am going to aim for sleeping earlier. I use amino acids supplements and cod liver oil to boost my energy without the downsides of caffeine. This is what I wrote http://www.cure4sleep.com/alternatives-to-caffeine.html

  20. For God’s sake, why can’t this thing be cured? I’d rather break my leg than have insomnia.i am in my mid 20s and have been suffering from insomnia since 18. I have been a past drug user. Was clean from drugs for like 6 months, attending the gym when out of nowhere one day I can’t sleep and from that day onwards I’ve been an insomniac. I had always been a smart and sharp student as a child but now I can’t focus on anything. I drift away inside my mind most of the time. I tried some sleep meds and anti depressants before but that only leaves me with a foggy head the next day. Attended a transcendental meditation class which seemed to work for like 1-2 months for me then stopped working. Then after that I tried a supplement called neurorest which seemed to work some days but started giving me nightmares. so stopped using the supplement and here I am at 5:30 am writing this while my cousin is snoring heavily on the other bed besides me..Makes me jealous.

  21. yes, still use it and it still has a wake-up effect, but it seems milder than caffeine to me. It doesn’t have the sleep-inducing effect it had at first–I thought I’d found THE answer; but it’s definitey better than any form of tea, let alone coffee, and I’ve stayed with it. (this probably sets the record for time between question and response, but better late than never.)

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