Sleep disturbances are associated with hormonal imbalances and may result in metabolic disorders including obesity and diabetes. Therefore, circuits controlling both sleep and metabolism are likely to play a role in these physiopathological conditions. The hypocretin (Hcrt) system is a strong candidate for mediating both sleep and metabolic imbalances because Hcrt neurons are sensitive to metabolic hormones, including leptin and ghrelin, and modulate arousal and goal-orientated behaviours. This review discusses the role of Hcrt neurons as a sensors of energy balance and arousal and proposes new ways of probing local hypothalamic circuits regulating sleep and metabolism with unprecedented cellular specificity and temporal resolution
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