Biochemical modulation of the sleep-wake cycle: endogenous sleep-inducing factors

J Neurosci Res. 2011 Aug;89(8):1143-9. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22666. Epub 2011 May 6.


Regulation of the sleep-wake cycle involves diverse brain circuits and molecules. Further complexity has been introduced by the recognition of sleep-promoting factors that accumulate in the brain naturally or during prolonged waking. The variety of sleep-inducing molecules includes peptides, cytokines, and lipids. With regard to the lipids, current evidence indicates the existence of endogenous lipids, called endocannabinoids, that mimic the pharmacological actions of the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana and that are likely to be essential factors in sleep promotion. This Mini-Review presents current knowledge concerning the role of endogenous compounds with sleep-promoting properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / physiology
  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / physiology*
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Humans
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Prostaglandins / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cytokines
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Prostaglandins
  • Adenosine
  • anandamide