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.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.