Azizi A. Seixas, Ph.D., assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine, in the Department of Population Health and the Center for Healthful Behavior Change, provides an interesting overview of the power of sleep, and the problems we could face when sleep is low quality or we simply don’t get enough.
Dr. Seixas has devoted his career to understanding and addressing the sociocultural and environmental determinants of chronic diseases. Dr. Seixas received an MA from Fordham University and was an advanced doctoral candidate in clinical psychology there. Additionally he received an MS in clinical psychology from The University of Dallas, and a BA in philosophy and premed studies from College of the Holy Cross.
Dr. Seixas discusses the four behaviors that he considers the pillars of health: physical activity, diet, stress management, and sleep. He states that of the four, sleep has been shown to be implicated in cardiovascular disease, metabolic health conditions, brain health, daily function, and overall quality of life.
Dr. Seixas’ research focuses on three areas: multilevel determinants of sleep and cardiovascular disease disparities; the long-term health results of cardiovascular disease (CVD) disparities; and developing adaptive, group-tailored, specific and personalized behavior modification interventions, incorporating machine learning analytical tools, to improve overall health and general well being. Dr. Seixas addresses the important sociocultural and environmental determinants of various chronic diseases and behaviors, that often prevent access to basic care in certain disadvantaged communities that are burdened by adverse cardiovascular outcomes in a disproportionate manner. Dr. Seixas‘ work looks at the barriers that hinder diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders within racial/ethnic minorities and seeks to evaluate the efficacy of behavioral models targeted at improving a commitment to sleep and CVD recommended types of therapies.
Dr. Seixas talks about the ways they reach out to the community, by literally going to retail community shops, such as barbershops and hair salons, to talk to people and work with them. He discusses the sleep education and social support that they offer to at-risk individuals. By introducing a home-based sleep study, and allowing people to avoid going to a clinic for the study they have found a way to offer more significant help to communities, targeting at-risk individuals, testing them, and helping put them on a path toward better health.
Dr. Seixas was awarded a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) career award to research as to whether inadequate sleep and/or obesity could possibly explain a notable proportion of CVD risk disparity between blacks and whites, through secondary data analysis of the Sleep Heart Health Study.
Dr. Seixas details how simply getting more quality sleep can affect so many areas in our lives, from sex drive to mood, functioning to mental clarity, and so many other serious health issues.
In addition to his work that focuses on population health insights, he is also working on developing precise and personalized behavioral medicine solutions that use artificial intelligence to optimize behavior change and adherence to pro-health behaviors.