Sleeping with the hypothalamus: Emerging therapeutic targets for sleep disorders Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Drug Design
  • Hypothalamus
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders


  • Delineating the basic mechanisms that regulate sleep will likely result in the development of better treatments for sleep disorders. The hypothalamus is now recognized as a key center for sleep regulation, with hypothalamic neurotransmitter systems providing the framework for therapeutic advances. An increased awareness of the close interaction between sleep and homeostatic systems is also emerging. Progress has occurred in the understanding of narcolepsy--molecular techniques have identified the lateral hypothalamic hypocretin (orexin) neuropeptide system as key to the disorder. Other sleep disorders are now being tackled in the same way and are likely to yield to efforts combining basic and clinical research. Here we highlight the role of the hypothalamus in sleep physiology and discuss neurotransmitter systems, such as adenosine, dopamine, GABA, histamine and hypocretin, that may have therapeutic applications for sleep disorders.

publication date

  • November 2002



  • Review



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nn944

PubMed ID

  • 12403989

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1071

end page

  • 5


  • 5


  • SUPPL.