Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Dayna Johnson

Dayna A. Johnson, PhD is a social epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. She received her doctorate in Epidemiologic Science from the University of Michigan, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Harvard Medical School. Her research is aimed at understanding the root causes of sleep health disparities and their impact on cardiovascular disease by 1) addressing the social and environmental determinants of sleep disorders and insufficient sleep; and 2) investigating the influence of modifiable factors such as sleep disorders and disturbances on disparities in cardiovascular outcomes.

Dr. Johnson’s research further explicates the social contributors to racial/ethnic disparities in sleep by quantifying the contribution of social, household-level and neighborhood-level factors with objective and well-validated subjective measures of insufficient sleep. She is also interested in the role of sleep and blood pressure dipping and has a newly funded study called SHEEP. Dr. Johnson and her team are measuring environmental factors in real time, conducting in-home polysomnography and actigraphy as well as 48-hour ambulatory blood pressure among African Americans.

Dr. Johnson recently published a review article “Are sleep patterns influenced by race/ethnicity-a marker of relative advantage or disadvantage? Evidence to date”. In this article Dr. Johnson and her co-authors not only discussed the state of sleep among racial/ethnic minority groups, but discussed measurement challenges related to sleep health disparities, potential contributors to sleep health disparities and promising strategies to move the science forward and address sleep and overall health disparities.