Shut Up and Let Me Sleep

Many people who live with diabetes will tell you that having this disease doesn’t keep them from doing the things they love. And for the most part, that’s true. There are people with diabetes who race cars, who complete triathlons, who swim in the Olympic Games. There’s even a PWD on the Supreme Court.

Usually, I agree with the superstars mentioned above. But not this week. This week, diabetes is having a deleterious effect on my favorite pastime of all: sleeping.

I know it’s not as impressive as rock climbing or cycling or other forms of weekend-warrior-ing, but sleeping is one thing that I am really, really good at. And of course, it’s not without its benefits. Without the 9-ish solid hours I aim for every night, I’m noticeably worse at paying attention to things at work, making decisions, being nice to people, and getting my general life stuff done for the day. The events of the last two nights have helped solidify this theory. Each night, I’ve been awakened no fewer than six times for some diabetes-related event.

My pre-bedtime check on Sunday night showed me at 180. A little on the high side, but perfectly safe for sleeping. My blood sugar levels tend to drift a little low in the middle of the night, anyway, so I snuggled into bed and fell blissfully asleep — for an hour and a half. Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by the familiar vibration of my pump. “HIGH,” it said. “201 mg/dl.” I was one mg/dl above the high blood sugar threshold I’d set for my Continuous Glucose Monitor, and I was being buzzed awake with the same urgency as if my blood sugar had dipped to, say, 45.

I decided to dismiss the alarm and continue sleeping, but that pattern continued for the next five hours, even after I turned on the light, bolused, and buried my head under the pillow. My blood sugar just kept tap-dancing around the 200 mark. Not high enough to kill me — just enough to trick my CGM into ruining my life.

Last night was the same way, except I saw it coming. Faced with an inexplicable 330 just before bed, I changed my set and bolused to bring the number down. My attempts were mostly in vain, though — I stayed over 200 (alarms and all!) until about 4:30 — at which point all the insulin I’d given myself all night seemed to attack at once. I stumbled out to the living room couch to enjoy a feast of Jelly Bellies and saltines with a side of cold sweats and the shakes. When I flipped the TV on, the local morning news was just starting, and I thought, “I can’t fucking believe it’s already Tuesday, and I still haven’t slept.”

Situations like these are perfect examples of why we can’t — and don’t — leave the decision-making parts of diabetes management up to the pump and its robot friends. After all, my CGM has no idea that I only have 3 hours left to sleep before the workweek begins, and that a blood sugar of 201 isn’t worrying enough to warrant an alarm every 30 minutes. It doesn’t understand that I know my blood sugar is over 250, but it’s dropping, so I’d like to just go to sleep and let ol’ Humalog do its thing. And I’m sure it doesn’t understand how grating that 4-pulse vibration is when it interrupts REM sleep, because it would have known just how close it was to being shoved down the garbage disposal.

As grateful as I am for my CGM, I’m taking the thing off tonight. If there’s anything I need more than minute-to-minute knowledge of my blood sugar trends, it’s one good night of uninterrupted shut-eye.

See what happens when I don't get enough real sleep? I pass out with my face on the cat's butt.

16 comments on “Shut Up and Let Me Sleep

  1. Sarah says:

    Word. Sometimes I resort to changing the high or low alert levels from 70/140, to 60/180 (or higher if needed). especially if I’m hanging right at 70 mg/dl overnight but the damn “low” is going off, or if I’m at an okay level but the high one keeps going off also. SO annoying! I appreciate the alerts, but when they just. won’t. stop. and the sleep has left the building, it’s too much. Good luck tonight!

    • Gerard says:

      Thanks for the tips, my daughter just started on CGM, and we are trying to twek settings, may move high setting up a bit to 280 or 300, she keeps waking up for high alarm.

  2. Kelly says:

    You just described most of my life with my 6 year old. I’m not sure when I’ve gotten a full nights sleep, but at least she sleeps through it still. I’m thankful for the CGM telling me she was at 45 last night (yikes!) but then it takes time to come back up so keeps alarming, and even the alert silence alarms if I set that. (why would something with the word “silence” in it still alarm??) Or, I’m grateful it catches her at 300 so I can give a correction, but then it inevitably keeps alarming as it takes time to come down. I miss sleep. Hope you get some rest tonight. 🙂

  3. Jess says:

    Oh, pick me! A few days ago, I spent all night flirting with the 200 mark, and my CGM is set to alarm at 200 too. The same thing–it would wake me up, I’d check on my meter, correct, and go back to sleep. But I just wouldn’t come down and it kept waking me up!

    I hope you get some sleep tonight!

  4. Well put. Same page here, at least as I’ve been trial-testing Larry The Loaner CGM. First couple times that happened, I changed the night-time range to a higher number so that it wouldn’t start freaking out unless I got to crazy high 300 levels. That helped. Question: When you see the CGM number (high or Low) at night, do you test to make sure? Sorry for the sleepless in Florida trend on your end, but at least you have a comfy cat to rest on!

  5. Jennifer K says:

    Here’s a kinda sweet alarm but still rattled me out of a deep sleep two nights ago- my honey woke me in the middle of the night to say, “you’re sort of sweaty, do you think you’re low”
    Reminded me of when I was a newly diagnosed teenager and my mom would wake me up once or twice a night to see if my sugar was low. Here’s a big THANK YOU to the parents and partners of PWDs (PPPWDs!) since Diabetes seems to keep them up too!

  6. Because I am already finding sleep at night to be quite precious right now, I have a few times this week put my cgms on silent. I kind of worry if I’m going to run low and not know it so I’m trying to do this on the nights I know I’d prolly run high before I’d run low.

  7. Alison says:

    Such a pain for you. Hope you manage to get some not so sweet dreams soon. I have been known to either increase my high alarm setting or turn the high alarm off completely when stuff like this is going on. That way I have the reassurance on knowing it’ll still alarm if I go low overnight but I’m not being woken up to tell me I’m high when I already know.

  8. Karen says:

    Oh yes, I’m right there with you. I’m a light sleeper to begin with. And my husband sometimes snores. And my cat likes to use me as her personal mattress. On the off chance that I manage to sleep through all of that, it is guaranteed that my CGM alarm will wake me up and ruin my sleep. 😦

    Which pump do you have? Because if you have the Revel, did you know you can silence either high, low, high and low, or all alarms?

  9. Sysy Morales says:

    I’m an angry and moody bitch when diabetes takes my precious sleep. when my twins were born and i only had 2 hours in a 24 hour period to sleep, and my diabetes got in my way, ohhh it wasn’t pretty!

    At least you’ve got a fabulous sense of humor…:)

    The picture is priceless by the way lol

    Wishing you some serious zzz’s

  10. Rachel says:

    Ohhh yes. It’s a pain in the ass. The paradigm doesn’t have “silence all alarms”?? I have the Revel, but I didn’t know I could silence them, an I wanted to throw it across the room and scream “85 IS A GOOD NUMBER I AM NOT GOING LOW THANK YOU!”

    Love my CGM, but yes, ANNOYING.

    Damn D.

  11. I am totally with you an the sleep topic. I see people out jogging on my way to work and I think, are you serious! If given the choice to sleep or jog I would absolutely sleep.
    When the CGM decides to rudely awake me more then once I usually find the sensor and site on the floor beside my bed:) PS: Luv the cat!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Can you not turn off or alter the alarms on a minimed CGM?

    On my Dexcom, I’ve sometimes turned off the high alarm. Or simply set it higher, to a number I’d really want to know about.

  13. Caroline says:

    This happened to me once in the brief period that I had a CGM. I threw the receiver across the room. Not only did I get to vent my rage, but it went out of range and couldn’t wake me up the rest of the night. Perfect!

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