How to Sleep with an Insulin Pump?

Insulin pumps are amazing diabetes devices that make blood sugar management much easier for thousands of insulin-dependent diabetics. An insulin pump delivers continuous doses of insulin 24 hours a day according to your body’s needs and allows you to manage additional bolus of insulin to match your food intake. Insulin pump therapy has proven to considerably help lower blood glucose levels, improve Hemoglobin A1C levels, and ultimately prevent complications from diabetes.

However, wearing a medical device attached to your body 24/7 can be scary for some people. One thing that many first-time insulin pump users are anxious about is sleeping with the device. How to sleep with an insulin pump attached to my body? What happens if I roll onto it? What if it unplugs during the night? Will it be comfortable? What if I get tangled up in the tubing or accidentally pull out the infusion set while asleep? Here are the answers to all your questions!

Related: How to shower or swim with an insulin pump?

5 ways to sleep with an insulin pump

Sleeping with diabetes technology devices like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) isn’t difficult, but it does require finding your own favorite habits. Some diabetics using insulin pumps can get very creative at finding the best ways to comfortably sleep with their medical devices. Here are some of the most popular solutions for sleeping with your pump:

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Clip the pump to your PJ or undies

One of the most common ways to sleep with an insulin pump is to clip the device to your clothes. You can clip it to your pajamas waistband for example. If you don't wear pajamas, you can clip the pump to your undergarment instead and tuck the tubing inside your undies. For women who prefer wearing nightgowns, choose the ones with V-neck collars so you can clip the pump to the front.

Slip the pump inside a pocket

Placing your insulin pump inside a pocket is also convenient for the night. It prevents waking up with your tubing wrapped around your body, neck, or arm, which is quite uncomfortable. Sleeping clothes do not usually have pockets, but you can substitute them for regular clothes that you feel comfortable in for sleeping. A t-shirt with a breast pocket is very convenient. Some diabetics even wear it inside out, so the pump is even more secured and less likely to fall out during the night. You can also sew pockets into your pajamas or nightdresses, or wear workout shorts with a key pocket for example. 

Related: Useful tips for storing insulin safe at home and while traveling?

Place the pump under the pillow

Another popular way to safely sleep with your insulin pump is to simply place it under your pillow. It works great for those who do not move too much during the night. You can also place your pump under a body pillow placed on your side.

Lie the pump beside you

Some pumpers are uncomfortable with the idea of clipping the pump to their clothes. You may want to try letting the insulin pump lie beside you on the bed. It’s a great and simple solution for people who sleep with little movement and don’t shift around during the night. Be sure the tubing is long enough so it does not disturb you. You can ask your pharmacist to give you infusion sets with the longest tubing possible. If you sleep with your partner, be sure to warn him or her about where your pump is. Be careful not to place your insulin pump on the edge of the bed to prevent it from falling off during the night.

Put the insulin pump near your bed

This solution is less common, but it may be more suitable for diabetics who are too nervous about rolling onto their pump or pushing it off the bed during their sleep. In that case, ask your pharmacist for longer tubing and place your pump on your nightstand or on the floor beside your bed.

Wear an insulin pump belt

Insulin pump belts are bands that you wear around your waist to hold your insulin pump comfortably in place. They usually have a secured inside pocket that prevents the pump from slipping out during your activities and your sleep. If you don’t mind wearing one at night, it may be a great solution for you to sleep easily without having to worry about your insulin pump.

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Related: Diabetes and Heat: Can hot weather & humidity affect blood sugar?

What can happen when you sleep with an insulin pump?

Rest easily. Sleeping with an insulin pump raises more issues about comfort than safety. Hundreds of thousands of diabetics use an insulin pump and have no problem sleeping with it. Insulin pumps are designed for everyday use and long night's nights of sleep!

Related: What to do when you can’t remember if you took your insulin?

Rolling onto your insulin pump

Sleeping or rolling onto your insulin pump won’t damage it. The controls are designed so that the buttons cannot be “accidentally” pressed. The chances of delivering a bolus of insulin by accident while you’re asleep are extremely low. For even more guarantee, some insulin pumps even have a lock mode you can set up for the night. The only problem that rolling onto your pump can cause is comfort. It may feel disagreeable, and sometimes slightly painful in case you roll onto the infusion site. 

Pulling out the infusion set

Many first-time pump users are anxious about pulling out their infusion set while sleeping. But rest assured: it’s very unlikely that the infusion set disconnects accidentally. In rare cases when the infusion set comes out during your sleep, most insulin pumps sound an alarm to wake you up. If it happens, don’t panic. It’s no problem. Simply get a spare infusion set and reconnect your pump before going back to sleep. 

Getting tangled up in the pump tubing

It will happen to you as it occasionally happens to all diabetics who use insulin pumps. It’s usually not an issue for your blood sugar levels as the tubing is thick enough not to block insulin delivery even when tangled. But waking up with your tubing wrapped around your body, neck, or arm isn’t very pleasant. If it happens too often and it bothers you, try one of the 5 ways to sleep with an insulin pump above. Clipping your pump to your pajamas, placing it inside a pocket, or wearing an insulin pump belt help prevent that situation.

We hope you find your own way to comfortably sleep with your insulin pump. Don’t hesitate to comment and share your tips here!

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