Dr. Ma's Healthcare Blog

Learn how to improve your sleep!

It's Sleep Awareness Week from 3/13-3/19/22!

According to the CDC, 1 in 3 American adults sleep less than the recommended 7+ hours of sleep. That's terrible, but I can't say that's not accurate since I sleep 5-7hrs/ day.

As someone who chronically suffers from poor sleep, I understand firsthand how important sleep is for daily function- poor sleep can affect your mood, your memory, your job performance, and even your sex drive.

So what can we do to improve our sleep?

1. Establish a regular sleep / wake time. This is important to keep your circadian rhythm consistent.

2. Don't use your phone or electronics for at least an hour before bed. The bright lights and blue light can disturb production of melatonin and other sleep hormones and confuse your body's "clock".

3. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This will help your body associate your bed with sleep.

4. Exercise regularly, but avoid exercising 3 hours prior to bedtime. This will prevent you becoming awake from the exercise.

5. Avoid caffeine 6-7 hours before bedtime.

6. If you still have trouble sleeping, then don't continue to lie in bed and frustratingly watch the clock tick away. Instead, read, meditate, or do something else that relaxes you until you are tired enough to fall asleep again.

If you get random bouts of anxiety like me, then try meditation/ mindfulness apps like Balance, Calm, Headspace, Tapping solution. YouTube also has a lot of great mindfulness / meditation videos.

And don't forget- talk to your doctor if you have excessive snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness despite sleeping long hours. There could be an underlying medical condition such as obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, etc.

At North Star DPC, Dr. Ma wants to work with patients to integrate lifestyle changes as well, so insomnia, sleep apnea, and anxiety can be treated holistically and not just through medications, like melatonin, xanax, etc.




#mindfulness #meditation #lifestylemedicine



#insomnia #sleephygiene


#medicine #primarycare

Why Dr. Ma left the conventional FFS (fee-for-service) insurance payment system and started a DPC Clinic

It's common knowledge that our healthcare system is broken. Insurance reimbursements to doctors are constantly decreasing, forcing doctors to see more and more patients to even be able to keep clinics open. Having to see a large volume of patients leads to poor quality care, with long wait times, short, rushed visits, and poor patient-doctor relationships (leading to lack of trust in the physician).

Dr. Ma saw that her patients were still paying high insurance premiums monthly, but getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of quality care. Eventually, patients think, "I hate going to the doctor's" or "why should I even bother?" and put off visits as long as possible. Or when they urgently need a doctor because the next available appointment is over 1 month out, they go to urgent care clinics and emergency rooms where they get a different doctor every time and have larger copays/ out-of-pocket costs than they should. Isn't that ridiculous?

Dr. Ma thought so. During her shifts at urgent care centers and as the center medical director for an occupational health (worker's compensation) clinic, she felt increasingly strongly that the only winners in the fee-for-service model are the insurance companies and corporations that owned clinics/ hospitals. She increasingly felt frustrated with the broken system because she felt that this was not the way she envisioned practicing when she decided to go to medical school.

Doctors can't provide good care when they're like a robot in a healthcare factory, churning out as many rushed patient visits per day as possible. It is not rewarding work, but rather soul-crushing work that leads to burn out. Patients can't get the care they need because of the lack of appointments, frustratingly long wait times, short face times with the doctor, and inconvenient visits for mundane problems like refills (vs just sending it in electronically which doctors cannot bill insurance companies for).

In contrast, at North Star DPC, Dr. Ma understands that you are spending your own money to have a membership, and understands how important it is for you to get in, to be seen for extended periods of time, and to receive the attention and care that you deserve.

Dr. Ma hopes that through North Star DPC, her patients can feel heard and cared for, rather than feel like just another MRN (medical record number) or another ear ache. She hopes to get to know her patients better, and through the improved doctor-patient relationship, help patients achieve their health goals.