Diabetes Bites Newsletter

JENNY'S journalJenny’s Journal:

Does it help to use a Smart Watch for Diabetes management?


I’ve gone back and forth with use of a Smart Watch for my own diabetes management. I started with a Pebble several years ago and loved the fact that I could see my CGM data right on my wrist. So much easier to just glance at things rather than have to pull out my phone and swipe to look. I changed to using an Apple watch not too long ago (generously handed down to me by a friend!!) and have liked it for several reasons other than the Pebble.

I thought it would be good to get an idea from the CGM online and Looped online (Facebook) communities to see what the DOC was thinking as well.

The question was posed “Why it is an advantage to use a Smart Watch (of any variety) for diabetes management – especially if you are a parent of a child with Diabetes, using a CGM or if you are someone using a DIY-Loop/APS type pump?”

Feedback was very interesting and from the standpoint of “useful tool” and I’d say that there are definite benefits to using a Smart Watch.

Here’s what people had to say:

– I like being able to check my IOB and if needed give a quick correction bolus when I’m in the middle of something else. I also like being able to set the “eating soon” and “exercise” targets with a tap-swipe-tap instead of having to open my phone or touch my pump – It’s like living in the future!

– Our Loop is mostly automatic, but, I use a smartwatch to tell me if my son needs a site/sensor/reservoir/battery change or if he is not looping (usually when he forgets his rig or pump). The watch is much quicker than opening phone and scanning Nightscout site, and I get notifications as a parent from the rig and NS on it as well.

– As a high schooler, my daughter doesn’t always want to pull her phone out in class to check her BG levels, IOB and bolus. The watch is her version of a “short cut”

– I check my watch so often that it is a constant and easy reminder of my BG level.  I don’t always pull out my phone – especially since it is in my purse and often times considered rude to do in meetings (intrusive).  And the receiver for Dexcom is just awkward and distracting like a phone. And it leads to a conversation around what it is rather than my ability to just address the alert and move on seamlessly.

– Generally, convenience (easier to glance than open phone up) and when running it means I don’t have to stop. I use and Apple Watch because I use Loop (but watch was in use before Loop so it wasn’t a specific purchase for that).

– I like my watch to be able to check my BG and trend in meetings and other situations where using my phone is less convenient or would not be as socially acceptable without having to explain what I’m doing on it.

– The last time I pulled out my phone while driving, a nice police officer saw it and I lost 3 demerit points and $455!! Glancing at a watch doesn’t have the same penalties. I live in South Australia which has some of the most severe fines for things like this. I drive a lot for work and play, so it’s nice to have BGs accessible all the time. I use a Misfit Vapor watch. It paired reasonably well with my AAPS phone/system and shows pretty and colorful graphs plus the time

– I have used a Pebble Classic and Time, a Garmin Vivoactive 3, and a series 4 Apple Watch. Being able to see my BG and Loop data on my wrist while I’m working as an RN in the ICU has been invaluable. We are not allowed to have phones “out”, so I need a way to keep an eye on myself while also keeping a close eye on my patients. I prefer an “always on” watch face, so the Apple Watch, as cool as it has been isn’t my favorite. I loved my pebble, but I like the sleep tracking, steps tracking and heart rate tracking offered by my Garmin and my Apple Watch. It’s nice to be able to see Loop on Apple watch and bolus from it as well.

– It helps my wife check the numbers of our daughter while we are in church and our daughter is in childcare. So in effect, keeping an eye on the numbers without looking disrespectful of where we are.

– Bolusing is simple using the Apple watch. Many times I’ll be eating on-the-go with my toddlers and pulling out the phone is just one more step to my already crazy day. I can just turn my wrist, open the Loop app on the Apple watch, add carbs quickly and give the recommended insulin based on the suggestion offered. It’s saved me so many times!

– When phone is misplaced it’s easy to ping the phone from the Apple watch to find it.

– I usually have the phone on silent so I don’t wake up sleeping kids but I get all notifications on the watch, including BG notifications, Loop failures, and phone calls so I never miss notifications I normally would without the watch.

– I find I don’t waste as much time getting distracted by other apps on phone

Here are the benefits / Uses of using a Smart Watch for Diabetes Management:

  • Check IOB
  • Set temp targets
  • Know when it’s time for a site/sensor/reservoir/battery change
  • Know when rig isn’t looping for those who use a DIY pump
  • Get notifications as a parent when child is the one with T1
  • More discreet and acceptable than pulling out phone (for example when driving, in school or in a meeting)
  • Can still get notifications without having phone sound when it may not be acceptable
  • Easy to check frequently at a glance without getting distracted by other apps on phone
  • Easy to use in exercise to look at watch screen rather than stopping to pull out phone
  • Typically still allowed to be out in places that phone may not be allowed (while driving, at work)
  • Other benefits to watch such as sleep tracking, steps tracking and heart rate tracking – reminders to stay active, stay hydrated, etc.
  • Bolusing fast and simple from Apple watch using Loop app
  • Can ping a lost phone from Apple watch to locate it quickly
  • For those that spend too much time on their phones or want to limit that time, the watch may help with avoiding distraction from games, social media