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Choosing the Glucose Monitoring Schedule that Works for You

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
November 5, 2018

Do you struggle with remembering to check your blood sugars? Are you not sure when the best time to check might be? Forgetting your meter at home, or interrupting an activity to check can be tiresome and inconvenient. To learn ways to effortlessly incorporate checking blood glucose into your routine, it is important to set up a plan.

In this article, we will discuss what kinds of activities you may want to check with glucose testing, and what a regular schedule looks like for different people.

Most doctors and diabetes educators will typically recommend monitoring your blood glucose before and after each of your three main meals, and at bedtime, but depending on your specific situation, you may have different needs. Depending on your situation, lifestyle, and goals, some of the following suggestions might apply to you:

after sleeping or fasting for at least 8 hours
  • Every time before using insulin
  • At least once daily if you take oral diabetes medications - your diabetes specialist or doctor can help you determine the best time.
  • To see which carbohydrates and carbohydrate amounts are right for you: check both before your first bite of a meal, and again 2 hours later. Take a picture of what you are eating to keep a record.
  • Before exercise, driving or handling dangerous machinery to ensure your blood glucose is at a safe level for those activities.
  • After exercise, to see how the activity has affected your blood glucose, and get a snack if needed.
  • When you are sick, blood glucose will be more unstable and unpredictable. Try to monitor more frequently while sick.
  • When you feel hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) symptoms
  • When you feel hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) symptoms

Generally speaking, when you want to improve your overnight glucose, or the fasting glucose, then check:

  • At least fasting every morning,
  • AND at bedtime each night.

When you want to improve your daytime glucose, or when you see glucose rises through the day, then check:

  • Before and after each meal, as noted above
  • AND at bedtime.
  • AND before and 30 minutes after different types of exercise

There are many scenarios here for why you should check your glucose more often. Talk with your healthcare provider about when and how many times you need to monitor daily to work best for your diabetes control and your schedule. Once you have a routine for checking and you know why you need to check in different circumstances, it will become an effortless and almost automatic part of your daily habits.