When Should You Check Your Blood Sugar?

Testing your blood sugar levels is a non-negotiable part of having diabetes. It provides important information around what’s going on inside of your body so that you can properly address it as needed. One of the most important pieces of testing your glucose levels is deciding what times of the day are best to do so. 

Why blood sugar testing matters

Blood sugar levels change throughout the day. When you have diabetes, fluxes in your glucose levels can require interventions to keep it within a healthy range. These numbers are influenced most by what you eat or drink, but can also be affected if you’ve been physically active, haven’t slept well, or are under stress.

Regularly testing your blood sugar provides insight into when and how much these levels are influenced. It also helps you determine whether an intervention is needed, such as having a snack to bring levels up or taking insulin to bring them down. 

Keeping a record of your blood sugar levels throughout the day can indicate trends in your body. This is helpful when you’re designing a diabetes self-management plan or when you want to make changes to your current routine. For instance, the best time to check blood sugar for type 2 diabetes may differ from type 1 diabetes, depending on the person.

How often to test

How often you test your blood sugar is ultimately up to you to decide. However, getting into a routine of testing your glucose level several times per day will be the most helpful for your diabetes management plan. 

In the beginning, newly diagnosed individuals will likely be testing more frequently to get a better idea of what your blood sugar is doing. You start by establishing a baseline. From there, you’ll develop a routine of testing your levels and knowing when they may be too high or too low. 

Best time to check blood sugar

Good diabetes management includes monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly throughout each day, but exactly when should you check your blood sugar for the best information? Several times are recommended for the most control.

  • When you wake up: The morning is the best time to check fasting blood sugar since your body has been without food for a prolonged period overnight. The best time to check blood sugar in the morning may be right when you wake up before preparing breakfast. This will give you an idea of your blood sugar baseline for the day and allows you to watch how it fluctuates as the day goes on. 
  • Before a meal: This is a helpful data point for people who use insulin, as it can tell them if additional insulin is going to be needed on top of their usual bolus dose taken with a meal.  
  • Following a meal: Testing 1-2 hours after a meal can tell you how much of an effect foods have on your blood sugar levels. Your healthcare team will be able to help you determine an optimal range for your numbers to fall into during this time frame, as well as how to correct them as needed. 
  • At bedtime: It’s critical to know what your blood sugar is doing before you lay down for the night. If your numbers are low, you’ll probably want to have a snack before you go to sleep to help prevent a dip. 
  • In the middle of the night: While not everyone with diabetes needs to test their blood sugar overnight, this is a recommended practice for some. For example, if you experience severe hypoglycemia, this proactive testing helps control your blood sugar isn’t dipping at midnight or in the wee morning hours. If you find that nighttime is problematic for your blood sugar, it’s also a good idea to keep a quick-acting snack next to your bed for easy access.
  • Before and after you exercise: Physical activity is an essential component of healthy diabetes self-management, but it can also cause changes in your blood sugar. Exercise tends to cause blood sugar levels to drop for many people, so knowing this ahead of time can help you prepare with a snack. If you notice symptoms of hypoglycemia while you’re working out, this is also a good time to test. 
  • During illness and stress: If you’re feeling under the weather or going through a period of stress, this can impact your blood sugar levels. Your healthcare team may suggest checking your glucose levels more frequently in these times to make sure you’re able to manage any changes appropriately. 

If you use insulin injections, wear an insulin pump, or use other medications for diabetes control, it’s also likely recommended to check your blood sugar several times per day. 

If you have any questions about how often or when to check blood sugar levels, be sure to speak with your healthcare team for personalized directions. 

The best time to check blood sugar depends on your personal diabetes experience, blood sugar trends, and whether you have high or low blood sugar symptoms. Overall, it’s a good practice to check your levels multiple times throughout the day and around the same times. 

When you wake up, before and after meals, around physical activity, and before bedtime are some of the key times to gather the data you need for optimal blood sugar control. 
The DigiVibe can help make finger pricks for blood sugar checking nearly pain-free, so you are willing to check more often. Grab your starter kit today.