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Why drink yerba mate and other caffeinated beverages?

For being alert and sleeping better (via caffeine). 

Why isn’t that a contradiction?

Firstly, it doesn’t do those things at the same time. Secondly, having high alertnes leads to sleeping better, if you time your alertness right. To understand why, you have to understand a bit more about how sleep works. 

What makes us sleepy?

When it comes to sleep drive (link), there are two components:

-Circadian component: cyclical sleepiness/wakedness, in roughly 24.5-25.5 hour cycles (link)

-Homeostatic: sleepiness increased by being awake and doing things

How does homeostatic sleepiness increase, neurologically?

A large part of homeostatic sleepiness is derived from memory load. As in, if you spend the day learning, you’ll get tired faster. The reason for this is that as you learn things, your short term memory fills up. Your brain doesn’t like this. The more it fills up, the more likely interference (link) is. Because of that, your brain has the homeostatic component. It makes you sleepier so that you can go to sleep and let memory optimization occur (link) to lighten the load on short-term memory. 

How does caffeine affect the homeostatic component?

Without getting too far into details I don’t understand, homeostatic sleepiness leads to adenosine build up. Caffeine blocks that, increasing alertness. 

But how does increased alertness increase sleepiness?

If you drink yerba mate (or any other caffeinated beverage) before going to bed, you’ll be in for some suffering. The circadian component will still be telling you to sleep but you’ve just surpressed the homeostatic component. You need both homeostatic and circadian sleep hormones to be able to sleep decently meaning you’ll be stuck awake until the caffeine is at least partially out of you. Most people understand this. 

What happens if you drink yerba mate in the morning, right after waking though? 

If I drink some yerba mate first thing in the morning it’ll firstly as mentioned before increase alertness. This is useful since I spend most of the morning doing learning with SuperMemo (link). But secondly, since I’m forcing up alertness, I’ll end up advancing homeostatic component. I won’t feel it immediately, but a few hours after drinking yerba mate, as the caffeine wears off, I’ll be more tired than if I hadn’t drank any from higher homeostatic pressure. 

Using this, you can use yerba a few hours before you need to sleep (I would say at least 6) for higher sleepiness later. 

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