Symielle A. Gaston, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Symielle A. Gaston

Postdoctoral Fellow
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Project Title: “Identification and Characterization of Environmental Factors Contributing to Disparities in Sleep Health and Cardiometabolic Dysfunction”

Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities in cardiometabolic morbidity and mortality persist despite many years of research. Studies have shown that aspects of physical and social environments (e.g., pollution and psychosocial stress) influence sleep and cardiometabolic health. Members of racial/ethnic minority groups are more likely than Whites to live in suboptimal sleep environments, which may lead to racial/ethnic disparities in sleep health. Comparably, low-SES individuals are more likely to live in suboptimal sleep environments compared to high-SES individuals. Poor sleep can negatively affect cardiometabolic health by altering biological processes, including diurnal patterns of blood pressure and heart rate, hunger and satiety cues, and insulin sensitivity. Few studies have investigated the roles of multiple environmental exposures and their relationships with sleep and cardiometabolic health. This information is critical to understand the complex causes of observed racial/ethnic disparities and for development of effective population-based interventions.

The researchers believe that neighborhood-level factors contribute to racial/ethnic and SES disparities in poor sleep and cardiometabolic health in the United States. In their study of the environment surrounding the home as a nonbiological upstream target for intervention, the researchers aim to identify the key factors contributing to these disparities.