The neurochemical basis of sleep mechanisms (onset and maintenance) is still controversial although the phenomenon itself is known to be mediated by more than a single molecule. The list of suggested endogenous sleep substances is rather long, and there is no single 'sleep center' identified in the brain. The role of fatty acids, and essential fatty acids in particular, has been ignored in sleep research. This review proposes an integration of the current knowledge about the effects of fatty acids in sleep neurochemistry, wherein fatty acids are seen to exert a direct effect on neuronal membrane structure or indirectly on the dynamics of biochemical compounds (complex lipids, prostaglandins, neurotransmitters, amino acids, interleukins) necessary for the initiation and maintenance of sleep.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by the Rose K. Ginsburg Chair for Research into Alzheimer's Disease and by the William Farber Center for Alzheimer Research.