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The Best Glucose Monitoring Routine For You

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
January 22, 2023
June 13, 2024

Do you forget to check your blood sugars? Not sure when to check? Forgetting your meter at home, or interrupting your day to check can be frustrating. But you live with diabetes now, so it is important to check when you need to, and when you are able. Here’s how to find the schedule that works for you. You can monitor around 6, potentially 7 times per day. But we don’t all need to do that. No WAY!

Read on or watch the video for ways to improve glucose.

There are 3 basic vocabulary words you need to know:

  • Paired readings: A pair of measurements taken before your first bite of food, and also 2 hours later.
  • Overnight pair readings: Check it at bedtime. and also fasting the next morning, after around 8 hours of rest and not eating.
  • Nocturnal checks: Waking up in the middle of the night to check, then going back to sleep.

Sometimes you will only use one of these types of readings, but sometimes you may use some combination of them to troubleshoot a problem. Here are some tips to structure your monitoring routine. The last one will surprise you.

Monitoring While Taking Insulin:

  • If you use a long-acting insulin at night or in the morning, then you should check how your glucose is working through the night. Do overnight paired readings.
  • If you take insulin with your meals, be careful. Some insulins peak 30-90 minutes later, and some stay in your system lowering glucose for 4-8 hours.
  • If you take mealtime insulin, do paired readings for those meals.

Monitoring If you Don’t Take Insulin:

If you are not on insulin at all, you still need to monitor regularly. As we age, our pancreas does, too! Here are 4 tips for best times to check it:

  • If it’s stable, Keep an eye on your glucose by checking fasting glucose, or even an overnight paired reading daily. If you see it rising, talk to your doctor. Its time to make a change.
  • If you are new to monitoring glucose, newly diagnosed with diabetes, or you have some changes in your lifestyle or medications, check more often for a week or 2 to get a better idea of how your glucose patterns look.
  • If your goals are to IMPROVE your glucose, then check before and around those times where glucose may be highest. Don’t be afraid of the number! For example, to improve bedtime or fasting glucose, do the overnight paired readings schedule until your glucose is where you want it. To improve glucose after dinner or at bedtime, do paired readings at dinner time.
  • If you are curious about how exercises changes glucose, check glucose before starting exercise, and also 30 minutes after you finish to see how glucose changes. You can also try changing your schedule to exercise before a meal and also after, to see how your glucose differs with exercise in the presence or absence of food.


You might be able to take only paired readings, or you might need to combine different monitoring schedules depending on your lifestyle. If you work weekends, nights, or if checking at work is difficult, you may need a different monitoring schedule during the work-week than the weekend. But what’s most important is consistency. If you compare from day to day, or from week to week, you will be able to detect gradual changes over time. Talk with your doctor and diabetes educator about when and how often to monitor for your needs. Once you have a routine for checking glucose and you know the reasons why that routine exists,  it will be easier to remember this in your daily habits.

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