Sleeping with an Insulin Pump – Our First Night Together

Sleeping with Insulin Pump

Trying to sleep with an insulin pump can be a bit awkward your first night.

Falling asleep has always been a bit of an exact science for me.  For example, if my pillow isn’t on the softer side or my sheets are tucked in wrong near my feet, it’s likely going to keep me awake.  I also notice if the air in the house is even 1 degree too cold or too hot.  And if the thermostat is several degrees too low, my ears will start to ache slightly, which will surely keep me awake.  Enter my Revel Insulin Pump into the equation; it’s about the size of a pager and is connected to an infusion set (mainly thin plastic tubing) that carries the insulin into the left side of my abdomen.  The part of the infusion set that is attached to my body contains a 6mm cannula, which is basically a narrow, flexible piece of plastic tubing.

Naturally, sleeping with my insulin pump presented several challenges:

  • Where do I put the insulin pump, which is approximately the size of a pager, when I sleep?
  • Will the tubing reach my bedside table or under my pillow?
  • Is it possible that I could snag the infusion set tubing if I toss and turn during the night?
  • Can I use the belt clip to clip the insulin pump onto my pajamas during the night?
  • What if I roll onto my side where the tubing is attached to me?  Will that hurt?  Could it kink the tubing?

Lying in bed before I fell asleep, my wife and I tested the above scenarios.

  • Could the pump sit on the bedside table?  Nope.  My current infusion set’s tubing is not long enough to reach the table, not to mention if the insulin pump got yanked off the table, it could tear the tubing out of me since it’s not nearly long enough to reach the floor.
  • What about putting the pump under my pillow?  Will the Pump Fairy come and leave me a piece of candy?  Nope, under the pillow won’t work.  The tubing is way too short.  This led my wife to wonder, “Can you get infusion sets with longer tubing?”  It’s a good question.  Of course, at the same time, more tubing also means more excess tubing to manage during the day, but it is definitely something to consider if it’s available.
  • Can I use the belt clip to attach the insulin pump to the waist of my pajamas?  As I practiced rolling from side to side, the weight of the belt clip was awkward and felt a bit bulky.  I then tried the smaller belt clip (the one that doesn’t swivel) that also came in the box with my Medtronic MiniMed Revel Insulin Pump.  I clipped it to the front of my pajamas, not far from the drawstring.  As I rolled from side to side, the clip and pump felt lighter and were less cumbersome.  I tucked the excess tubing inside the waist of my pajamas and pulled my sleeping shirt down over the insulin pump.  I think we have a winner.
  • What if I roll onto where the infusion set is attached to my body?  Could doing so hurt me or damage the infusion set, disrupting the delivery of insulin?  Having already asked this question to my Medtronic insulin pump instructor, I knew that someone of my weight couldn’t damage the tubing or insertion site just by rolling onto it.  It was okay for me to sleep on that side and to be honest, I could barely feel the circular piece of plastic at the insertion site, even when I was lying on top of it.  This is because it lies rather flat against my side.

In conclusion, I found that using the smaller of the two belt clips to clip the insulin pump to the front of my pajamas is, for me, currently the best way to solve the problem of sleeping with an insulin pump. If anyone else has any suggestions or uses a different technique, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear other ideas.

10 Responses to “Sleeping with an Insulin Pump – Our First Night Together”

  1. Trev says:

    Hey, awesome site! I have added you to my reading list. I linked to your site from Tudiabetes. I have been pumping for many years, the front of the boxers is where it ends up. Takes a bit to get used to to, kind of like a ring, or necklace. Then you don’t realize it’s there. Great to read your post. Cheers.

    • Kev says:

      Unfortunately, I’m in the “still realize it’s there” phase of sleeping with the pump, especially when I’m first falling asleep. I find myself repeatedly adjusting it until I’m comfortable. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I fall asleep on my side.

  2. rochelle says:

    dose it heart when i run????? or sleep??

  3. Kev says:

    When I go running it doesn’t hurt at all, but I do zip the pump into an old MP3 player case that I then strap around my hand, just so it doesn’t fall off my waste. Depending on the length of the tubing, sometimes I even thread the tubing under my shirt and out my sleeve so it won’t dangle when I run. Strapping it around my upper arm could also work, as I know some people do.

    As far as sleeping goes, I’m pretty used to it by now. It doesn’t hurt. Sure, there are times when I roll right on top of the cannula insertion site and there is a mild discomfort, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me at all. Most of the night I have it clipped to the side of my pillow so that I make sure I can hear the alarms (unfortunately, my pump’s alarms aren’t very loud).

  4. Cheyenne says:

    My 10 year old brother just got his imsulin pump yesterday and he plays football. When he sleeps his cannula keeps kinking. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to keep it from kinking? I hate to see him cry whenever he has to change it.

  5. Kev says:


    Your brother’s endocrinologist or diabetes educator might be able to offer you the best advice on why this is happening and what to do to fix it. Definitely start there first. Most likely, the cannula is too long for him or he’s inserted it in a bad area. Some areas of the abdomen are better than others. I’ve had insulin delivery issues when inserting my cannula too close to my hip bone. I’ve only had issues with kinking once since January, when I first started using my insulin pump. Don’t let it discourage him. It takes time to get used to it, including knowing the best insertion locations, cannula length and tubing length.

    If he played football with it in yesterday, it is possible that it got kinked then. There are different types of infusion sets he can try that may be better for sports, like the Sure-T infusion set, which incorporates a steel needle instead of a plastic cannula. However, I doubt that is his issue right now. I’ve never tried the Sure-T infusion set myself, but it was recommended to me as a possible option for hockey by my diabetes educator. However, it may come down to personal preference in the end.

    Best of luck.

  6. Cheyenne says:


    Thank you very much for those options. His diabetes educator is a little spacy lol. The way that everyone on here said to sleep with the pump is how he did it last night and it wasn’t kinked this morning when he woke up. He said to tell all of you thank you for the advice even though it wasn’t for him.

    He will not use a steel needle at all live ever. He hates it. As far as the location goes he has it exactly where the diabetes educator told him to put it. It is by his belly button.

    Thank you for your help.

  7. Jayson says:

    My 11 daughter started her pump today. We didn’t even think about sleeping issues. I immediately googled and found your post. It was most helpful. Thank I for your efforts.

  8. Eva says:

    I’ve just come home with my insulin pump today,medtronic mini med, I relised how aqward sleeping may be but I tried what you surjested and it worked yay!

    • Kev says:

      Eva, that’s great to hear. I wish you the best of luck with your new pump. Hopefully, you two will have plenty of restful nights together ;).

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