When you first discover that you will need a start using an insulin pump to help monitor your diabetes, you could easily become overwhelmed with the number of questions that need to be answered. Among the first questions that you will want a solution for is how will you sleep with this tiny device each night.
Fortunately, you will learn very quickly that sleeping with an insulin pump doesn’t have to be challenging. While every person is different and your individual experience may take some trial and error, in this sleep guide, we have 17 easy tips for you to start with when it comes to sleeping with an insulin pump.
Tips for Attachment
Regardless of day or night, figuring out where to put your little device will always be something you need to consider. To avoid having attachment issues, here are some useful and creative ways that people have found to keep their pump close by.
1. Use A Clip
The most reliable and accessible way to keep your pump in place is to clip it to your evening wear. This can be a sleep bra, underwear, shorts, or something as simple as a shirt. If you want to feel confident that the clip won’t come off during movement, simply clip it to the inside of your clothing. Using the elastic of shorts or underwear has the added benefit of keeping your pump snug to prevent shifting.
2. Sleep with Pockets
Usually, pockets aren’t a necessity when it comes time for bed; however, a T-shirt with a breast pocket turned inside out can be used as a handy holder. Other great options are exercise pants or shorts with a key pocket. These pockets are often small enough to keep the pump in place without worrying that it will fall out in the night.
3. Sew A Pouch
No pockets? No problem. Crafty sleepers can use an extra piece of material cut to the size of the pump and sew directly onto any clothing that is worn for sleep. Sewing your own pouch is a cheap yet reliable way to keep your pump in place.
4. Use A Waist Belt
A belt pouch is a popular accessory for people with diabetes all over. The ease and comfort make the belt a no-hassle option that you can use night after night. Most belts come with multiple pockets, which makes it possible to place the pump wherever it feels more convenient, based on your infusion set. I personally recommend using an Athletic Insulin Pump Case (link to Amazon) pictured below as your go to waist belt. I’ve used mine for a few months now, and I really enjoy how comfortable it is. I forget I’m wearing it most times, and when I wear it to bed I’m able to easily sleep with it on.
5. Use A Thigh Pump Holder or Garter
Many people who sleep with an insulin pump appreciate the discretion and location that a garter provides. By having the pump on your thigh, it can comfortably stay close to the infusion site without getting in the way.
As a bonus, a garter is also a practical option for daytime wear under loose clothing. If a waist belt just isn’t your style, using a thigh pump holder works just as well. I purchased one while writing this post to get an idea of the level of comfort and ease of use, and I ended up really enjoying the new placement. It’s sold by the same company on Amazon as well. Here’s the link to check it out – Athletic Insulin Pump Case For Legs.
6. Use an Arm Band
If a garter isn’t your thing, an armband may come in handy. This option is better for those who know that they don’t fling their arms around in their sleep or sleep with them overhead.
Keeping the pump in an armband is excellent for those who want to keep it close to their head in case of an alarm. Check it out here on Amazon as well – Athletic Insulin Pump Case For Arms. This one I don’t personally own, but it comes highly recommended by one of my diabetic friend’s who says: she loves using hers and often sleeps with it on.
Tips for Tubing
One concern that new insulin pump wearers might have is dealing with the tube. But don’t worry, you will learn to get used to it. At first, you may wonder if you will crush it or somehow ruin it in your sleep, but experienced diabetic sleepers have noted that it’s more durable than you think. The only thing that you need to figure out is how much tubing you actually need for comfortable movement.
7. Use Less Tubing
For those who worry that they will wake up with the tube wrapped around their back, arm, or legs, the simple solution is to purchase a shorter hose. You can do this the next time you replace the infusion set.
8. Use Longer Tubing
As you will see when we discuss placement for the pump, some wearers choose not to attach their pump to their body or clothing at all. In this instance, you should get an extended hose to allow for movement.
People who have chosen to go the longer route rarely report experiencing any issues with the extra length.
Tips for Placement
For each of the below tips, you’ll notice that it is perfectly normal and possible to sleep comfortably without attaching your insulin pump to your body. With these options also comes a bit of trial and error for tube length. For some areas of placement, you may need a longer tube, while for others, you may choose to go shorter and keep it closer. You should plan to sleep for a few nights each way. Once you learn your preferred sleep position, you will know which length is right for you.
9. Place the Pump At Your Side
Peaceful sleepers can rejoice because sleeping with an insulin pump is even more comfortable if you can manage to get through the night with minimal movement. If you know that you move a little but still want to try keeping the pump close by, try a body pillow at your side to help keep yourself from shifting too much.
10. Put the Pump on the Nightstand
An excellent solution to keep the pump out of the way is to put it on your bedside table. While it’s there, you will be able to hear if there are any alerts from the device. This itself can minimize some of the anxiety when you are first learning to sleep with your pump.
If you decide to use your nightstand as the resting place, be sure that there is enough tubing to account for the location of your infusion site if you happen to roll away from the pump.
11. Place It Under the Pillow
Another way to keep the pump close to your ears is to store it under the pillow. Tucking it away securely will make sure that it doesn’t get lost in the bed if you tend to toss and turn, and will also ensure that you don’t roll on top of it.
Keeping it under your pillow is also an ideal solution if you share the bed with a partner, pet, or an unplanned visit from a child in the middle of the night. It’s easily accessible while also staying out of the way from other people who may get caught on it or knock it off of the bed.
14. Let It Be Free
For those who are more free spirits, you may be wondering if all of this extra attention is absolutely necessary. After all, you’re used to falling into bed and letting the body move on its own, without constriction. You will be happy to hear that there are plenty of diabetic people who are just like you and maintain their freedom.
If the thought of strapping your insulin pump to your body makes you more concerned than anything, try sleeping with the pump in the bed without worrying about where the pump may go. For this option, you’ll want to be sure that the tube is long enough for you to move while keeping the pump away from your body. This will help prevent you from rolling on top of it.
Tips for Safety
Insulin pumps and tubes are sturdy enough to endure some wear and tear. Which is beneficial for those who are wild sleepers or just tend to be on the rougher side. That being said, you will still want to ensure that you are keeping the pump, tube, and infusion site safe.
15. Keep Your Skin Protected
The area of the infusion set can easily become infected or dirty if not cleaned or placed correctly. Be sure to consult with your doctor with regards to replacing and learning how to insert the infusion set.
Some people have learned that spraying an antiperspirant on the skin near the infusion will help keep the area dry. This is an excellent idea for the warmer months or people who get hot in their sleep.
16. Set the Lock Feature
You may be understandably concerned about pressing the buttons in your sleep, delivering insulin when it isn’t needed or upping the amount. Insulin pumps today have a feature to lock the buttons to avoid accidentally pressing them when you’re active or sleeping. While you may not disable the keypad each time you aren’t using it, it’s better to be safe than sorry when you are asleep.
Locking the device is also an ideal practice for children, both when they are awake and when they are sleeping. Setting the lock will keep fidgeting fingers away from the pump.
17. Be Cautious with Heating
You should plan to be careful when sleeping with a heated blanket during the winter months. In this case, you may want to elevate the pump on top of a pillow so that it isn’t near the heat of the blanket. While the pump itself may not be affected, the extra heat can weaken the effectiveness of the insulin. (Source)
Bonus Tip for Children
It can be challenging to explain to a child why an insulin pump is necessary and vital to keep in place. You may worry that your young son or daughter will try to remove the tube or struggle to sleep with it comfortably. One option from parents who have gone through this new hurdle is to use their favorite stuffed animal to hold the pump.
If your child cannot sleep without cuddling up to their plush security toy, designate this toy as the official keeper of the pump. Assigning some of the responsibility to something that they love will help ensure that they protect it as well.
As you will learn, insulin pumps and hoses don’t crush easily and are intended to make your everyday life easier. When you start to sleep with yours, allow yourself some time to get settled and learn the best tip that works for you.