In patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the pharyngeal muscles become relaxed during sleep, which leads to a partial or complete closure of upper airway. Experimental studies suggest that withdrawal of noradrenergic and serotonergic drives importantly contributes to depression of hypoglossal motoneurons and, therefore, may contribute to OSA pathophysiology; however, specific cellular and synaptic mechanisms remain unknown. In this new study, we developed a biophysical network model to test the hypothesis that, to explain experimental observations, the neuronal network for monoaminergic control of excitability of hypoglossal motoneurons needs to include excitatory and inhibitory perihypoglossal interneurons that mediate noradrenergic and serotonergic drives to hypoglossal motoneurons. In the model, the state-dependent activation of the hypoglossal motoneurons was in qualitative agreement with in vivo data during simulated rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. The model was applied to test the mechanisms of action of noradrenergic and serotonergic drugs during REM sleep as observed in vivo. We conclude that the proposed minimal neuronal circuit is sufficient to explain in vivo data and supports the hypothesis that perihypoglossal interneurons may mediate state-dependent monoaminergic drive to hypoglossal motoneurons. The population of the hypothesized perihypoglossal interneurons may serve as novel targets for pharmacological treatment of OSA. NEW & NOTEWORTHY In vivo studies suggest that during rapid eye movement sleep, withdrawal of noradrenergic and serotonergic drives critically contributes to depression of hypoglossal motoneurons (HMs), which innervate the tongue muscles. By means of a biophysical model, which is consistent with a broad range of empirical data, we demonstrate that the neuronal network controlling the excitability of HMs needs to include excitatory and inhibitory interneurons that mediate noradrenergic and serotonergic drives to HMs.