Sleeping with an insulin pump becomes second nature, but I often wonder if I didn't have a pump, would I get a better sleep? Wait, not just a pump, if I didn't have diabetes would I get a better sleep? Yes 100%. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. I'll be sleeping with diabetes for awhile I am sure... but in the meantime, I want to write about what it is like to get a nights rest while living with type 1 diabetes.
When I was first diagnosed my friend Mitch who also has type 1 and a pump told me to just let the pump roll around with me in bed. The first night I tried that, I tied myself up like a cowboy on a train track and decided that that was not for me. So, I started clipping it to my pajamas and I would adjust it as I moved around in my sleep. At first, it was difficult to get used to having this hard small brick in my bed with me, that was attached to my stomach. I would get it stuck and twisted, and would wake up with the marks on my body from where the pump was lodged in my sleep. But now, 6 years later, the insulin pump is like my third arm, something that I barely notice in my sleep.
While I am sure I don't physically notice the pump anymore in my sleep, I am sure I am disturbing my sleep making myself comfortable adjusting my pump with each toss and turn I make in bed. I have gotten to the point where I do not clip it to anything and let it roam around my bed with me. (I am finally at the stage that Mitch was at when I first got my pump.) There have been a couple times I have some how ripped it out in my sleep, but that is less than a few times in the 6 years I have been pumping.
Beyond the pumping and sleeping, there are symptoms of both high and low blood sugars that interrupt a person with diabetes sleep. For example, high blood sugars often make a person have to use the washroom a lot. So, usually in the night depending on my blood sugar I am having to get up and pee, which of course disrupts my sleep. The other thing is low blood sugars, which are awful in general but especially in the night. This requires me to wake myself up fully, check my blood sugar and find treatment via snack/glucose. All of this adds up and by the time the alarm goes off, sometimes it takes all the energy I can grasp to get up and carry on with the day, still having to deal with the diabetes that kept me up all night.