Soomi Lee, Ph.D.

Soomi Lee, Ph.D.


Stealth Lab


Sleep; stress; cardiovascular health; work and family; daily activity diversity; middle adulthood; micro-longitudinal methods

Description of Research Interests

My research interests and expertise cover sleep, stress, and active lifestyles, with a special focus on middle adulthood. Despite the growing trend in aging research to incorporate information from earlier developmental periods, still less is known about middle adulthood. I study how the interplay between sleep and stress during middle adulthood contributes to health in older adulthood. Further, I focus on the importance of active lifestyles in health and well-being across adulthood. My research includes (but not limited to) the following three topics.

Dynamic interplay between sleep and stress and their associations with well-being in middle adulthood. Middle-aged adults are more vulnerable to poor sleep because they typically have more psychosocial stressors stemming from multiple responsibilities across work and non-work domains (e.g., work-to-family conflict). My previous work analyzing multiple days’ diary data from middle-aged adults shows that work-to-family conflict and time-based stressors have a bidirectional relationship with sleep. For example, more work-to-family conflict and time-based stressors on a day predict longer sleep latencies that night. On the opposite temporal direction, shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality also predict experiencing more work-to-family conflict and time-based stressors the following day. Moreover, when poor sleep is coupled with high daily stress, it is associated with more negative affect and less positive affect during the day.

Sleep characteristics in middle adulthood predict health outcomes in older adulthood. My research has found that poorer sleep characteristics during middle adulthood are associated with adverse health outcomes in older adulthood, including more chronic physical conditions and a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. These studies use subjective (self-report) and objective (actigraphy) sleep assessments to capture sleep characteristics across multiple dimensions (e.g., regularity, satisfaction, alertness, timing, efficiency, and duration) and to comprehensively evaluate the health impact of sleep.

The importance of active lifestyles in health across adulthood. I am interested in identifying modifiable factors that may protect against age-related declines in sleep and health. An active lifestyle is one such factor. My previous work shows that greater activity diversity (i.e., broad and even participation across common daily activities) is associated with higher psychological well-being and better cognitive functioning across adulthood. I created a novel measure of activity diversity using Shannon’s entropy method. This work is well aligned with my research focused on sleep and stress, because sedentary lifestyles or a lack of daily activities can be stressors and may degrade sleep and other domains of health.

To examine these research topics, I conduct population-based, interdisciplinary studies by using various study designs and methods, including survey, daily diary, ecological momentary assessment, sleep actigraphy, and biomarkers. My ongoing projects include a NIA R56 (1R56AG065251) to examine the associations of multiple sleep characteristics with cardiovascular health outcomes and pilot studies to examine daily sleep characteristics in healthcare workers and their associations with work performance (see STEATH lab).

Ongoing Research Support

1R56AG065251 - 01A1(Lee, PI)                                                                      09/2020-09/2021

Sleep Health Profiles in Middle-aged Adults in Relation to Cardiovascular Health
Role:Principal Investigator

University of South Florida (Lee, PI)                                                                 05/2019-04/2021
Research & Innovation Internal Awards Program (No. 0134930), New Researcher Grant Award
“Sleep health in direct-care workers and its association with work performance”
Role:Principal Investigator

University of South Florida (Lee, PI)                                                                 05/2019-04/2021
College of Behavioral and Community Sciences Grant Program (No. 18320)
“Cancer center nurses’ sleep health and its association with work performance”
Role:Principal Investigator

Florida Department of Health (Meng, PI)                                                           12/2018-12/2020
Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer's Disease Research Award (No. 9AZ28)
“Visually-assisted mindful music listening intervention for persons living with dementia and their caregivers: A pilot study”

PubMed Publications

Classes Taught

Undergraduate Teaching 

Graduate Teaching 

Editorial and Professional Activities

Editorial Boards

SLEEP (2021 −)

Sleep Health (2019 −)

Professional Service and Affiliations

Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, American Psychological Association, Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging)

Affiliate of the Occupational Health Psychology Training Program, Department of Psychology, University of South Florida

Member of Diversity and Inclusion Committee, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida