10 Hacks That Make It Virtually Impossible to Ignore (or sleep through) Diabetes Device Alerts

We’ve found a variety of innovative solutions for diabetes device alarms and alerts that are almost impossible to tune out


Author: Sacha Uelmen, RDN, CDCES 

October 2022

While no solution is 100% foolproof, these innovative solutions from device users and health care providers can help

For people with diabetes and their caregivers, concerns over accidentally sleeping through diabetes technology device alerts can be stressful. Despite improved and customizable sound options and vibrating devices, some people still have trouble waking up. Deep sleep and alarm fatigue can cause a person’s senses to stop recognizing these sounds over time making it even harder to wake up.

While no solution is foolproof, we’ve found some innovative solutions that are sure to wake even the heaviest sleeper.  There are options for a college student away at school, pre-teen off at summer camp, a child spending the night at a friend’s house or an elderly parent who lives alone. And some are good choices for people with different disabilities who may benefit from back-up options.

Here are our top 10 solutions starting with low-tech to high-tech DIY that can help awaken (almost) anybody.

  1. Device Alarms: Turn the device volume to high and change the alarm options periodically. Hearing the same sound can contribute to alarm fatigue over time. We recommend changing specific alerts to a new sound every month or so. This can increase the likelihood that the user will hear it and wake up. 
  2. Device in a Bowl: Put a glass or hard plastic bowl next to the bed, and place the device/phone in the bowl before going to bed. Be sure it’s set on vibrate. The rattling next to your bed can wake up even sound sleepers.
  3. The Bed Shaker: There are a number of specialized alarms that can be installed next to your bed with vibrating pads and flashing lights. Some can be configured through third-party apps to respond to CGM alerts.
  4. Sugar Pixel: This is a secondary glucose display alert system and “dedicated CGM hardware.” It looks like a retro clock that displays blood glucose in large numbers - easy to see across a room and comes with multiple alert options, including vibration and dual audio-vibration for heavy sleepers. Sugar Pixel runs around $99.00 retail. 
  5. Phone Calls: The Sugarmate App, compatible with CGM devices, can send urgent alerts via phone call to people with diabetes and caregivers letting them know when blood sugar is low. The app also includes customizable alerts, such as when blood sugar is dropping or consistently high. 
  6. Bellman & Symfon Phone Sensor Home Alerting System: This separate device is designed to wake people with hearing impairments. The device features a very loud alarm that increases in sound, bed shaker and flashing lights. It connects directly to a phone that can wake a person when phone calls or alerts come in. It can also be paired with the Sugarmate app to send waking alerts when blood glucose is low. 
  7. Make it Louder: Bluetooth speakers can often be paired with a CGM device allowing more volume options when setting alerts for your device.
  8. Multi-Sensory: Amazon Alexa can be integrated with Sugarmate and other apps. Multiple functions allow a caregiver to send commands to wake a person with diabetes such as playing loud music or turning on lights when using smart bulbs. This may require a bit more advanced programming.
  9. Find My Phone: Some caregivers find that the “find my phone” alert on their phone or Apple Watch is very effective in waking a loved one. It's very loud and hard to ignore. Other users found that the watches vibrating alert on the inside of the wrist wakes them without additional sounds. If you are calling your loved one with diabetes, be sure your phone number is programmed to ring even when using the “do not disturb” function.
  10. Nightscout: This is a DIY option that allows you to connect your CGM or pump to the app allowing alerts to the person with diabetes and other users. Some have found these alerts may be more effective. It’s important to enable the Lock Screen to keep the app running throughout the night. Visit Nightscout.

Regardless of comfort with technology, these are options that can improve peace of mind for people with diabetes who are heavy sleepers or have disabilities and for their caregivers or loved ones. Many of the options are low or no cost and integrate with technology you may already be using.  

The Danatech Digest

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This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your diabetes care and education specialist or health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. To find a diabetes care and education specialist near you, visit the ADCES finder tool.

ADCES and danatech curate product specifics and periodically review them for accuracy and relevance. As a result, the information may or may not be the most recent. We recommend visiting the manufacturer's website for the latest details if you have any questions.

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