Why You Should Try a CGM Even if You’re Reluctant


Editor’s Note: Educational content related to CGM technology is made possible with support from Dexcom, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication. Editorial control rests solely on Beyond Type 1.

Whether you’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for 30 years or three, it’s easy to assume that using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) isn’t really necessary. You can prick your finger to check your blood sugar, why would you need a CGM?

The quality of life for a person with type 1 diabetes has changed a lot over the last few decades. While there are always reluctant adopters of any technology, the reluctance to try a CGM is about as logical as watching a movie using blurry VHS tapes instead of streaming it online.

Using a CGM as a person with diabetes has the potential to improve your A1c and overall blood sugar levels, reduce your risk of developing long-term complications, protect you from hypoglycemia while you’re sleeping or driving and spare your fingers the daily abuse they’ve endured for years.

Let’s take a closer look at why it’s worth giving CGM technology a try.

Don’t get stuck on what you’re used to

Let’s imagine this is the year 1990 and glucose meters have truly gone mainstream—but you’re still checking your blood sugar with strips of paper and tubes of urine from the 70s? Those urine strips gave you a 100-point range of where your blood sugar was four hours ago.

Back then, many people were reluctant to start using glucometers simply because they were not used to  having that much useful information about their blood sugar.

Today, glucose meters are the basic standard of diabetes care. You can continue pricking your finger to get a momentary glimpse of your blood sugar level anywhere from four to 10 times a day. Of course, you don’t know what direction it’s headed or what it will be by the time you check again in a few hours.

Or you could use a CGM to see what your blood sugar is at any moment and what direction it’s headed in with settings for alarms if you dip below or rise above your target range. Compared to 1990, this amount of data is life-changing!

Today’s technology can give you more information about blood sugar than you’ve ever had before. That information can help keep you safer and healthier for the rest of your life with diabetes.

CGMs provide a new way of reviewing blood sugars: time-in-range

Time-in-range tells you what percentage of the day your blood sugar levels are higher, lower, or within your personal target range. A CGM can provide this data because it’s tracking your blood sugar levels all day long.

Before CGM technology, the only way you could really assess your overall blood sugar health was through A1c testing.

But there are a lot of flaws in A1c testing—starting with the fact that it simply gives you an average blood sugar without any sense of daily fluctuations and quality of life.

You could easily have an A1c of 7.0% but still experience blood sugar roller coasters, severe lows and wild highs on a daily basis. If the middle of all that chaos is somewhere between 150 to 180 mg/dL, your A1c will come back around 7.0% and your healthcare team will think you’re thriving. When in reality, you could be struggling and exhausted.

The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) provides the following guidelines regarding TIR range goals depending on age and pregnancy.

Person with diabetes Blood sugar range Time-in-Range (hours/day) Time-Below-Range (hours/day) Time-Above-Range (hours/day)
Adults with Type 1 & Type 2 3.9-10.0 mmol/L70-180 mg/dL >70% (about 17 hours <5% (just over 1 hour) <30% (about 7 hours)
High-risk for lows (children & elderly) 3.9-10.0 mmol/L70-180 mg/dL >50% (about 12 hours) <1% (about 15 minutes <10% (about 2.5 hours)
Pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes 3.5-7.8 mmol/L63-140 mg/dL >50% (about 12 hours) <5% (just over 1 hour) <25% (about 6 hours)
Pregnancy with Type 2 or Gestational diabetes 3.5-7.8 mmol/L63-140 mg/dL >90% (about 21 hours) n/a n/a

Keep in mind that these guidelines are designed to help you stay as healthy as possible while also minimizing your risk of severe hypoglycemia.

Less to carry but easier to share

When you’re using a CGM, you don’t need to carry your entire glucometer kit with you everywhere you go! Instead, you simply need the CGM in your arm and your Smartphone (If you don’t use a smartphone, you can get a receiver to use with your CGM. A receiver is about the size of an old-school pager.)

You can also share your data with your healthcare team or your family effortlessly! In fact, you can allow anyone in your circle of friends or family to “follow” your blood sugars throughout the day on their own smartphone for extra support!

CGM technology makes it easier to share your data. CGM technology makes it easier to get up and go do life.

Yes, you’re tough but your fingertips are tired

People with type 1 diabetes develop a mighty resilience when it comes to being uncomfortable. Finger-pricks, low blood sugars, high blood sugars, injections—we endure it all while dealing with everyday life. But your fingertips are tired.

Tired of being poked and forced to bleed at least four times a day for the last X years! You’re used to it. It doesn’t bother you. You’ve pricked your finger probably 14,000 times at this point, but even Arnold Schwarzenegger needs a vacation.

CGM technology still punctures your skin when you insert the new sensor, but today’s sensors last for about 14 days. Instead of pricking your finger 56 times over the course of two weeks, you could insert a sensor once and maybe prick your finger once or twice over the course of two weeks.

You can try a CGM for free for two weeks

Getting a CGM starts with asking your doctor for a prescription for a Dexcom CGM or a Freestyle Libre 2 or 3. Then you can use that prescription and get a free trial with either CGM technology using these programs:

One free sensor should last you up to 14 days, giving you plenty of time to experience the benefits of using a CGM.

Bottom line: You don’t know what you’re missing until you try it

Okay so you’ve been managing your type 1 diabetes for years without all of today’s fancy technology and you’re doing “just fine”. But what if you have the chance to do and feel better than “just fine”?

Today’s CGM technology can completely change the way you manage your blood sugar around so many different aspects of regular life. You can’t fully appreciate it until you’ve tried it.

WRITTEN BY Ginger Vieira, POSTED 04/13/22, UPDATED 03/29/23

Ginger Vieira is the senior content manager at Beyond Type 1. She is also an author and writer living with type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism. She’s authored a variety of books, including “When I Go Low” (for kids), “Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes,” and “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout.” Before joining Beyond Type 1, Ginger spent the last 15 years writing for Diabetes Mine, Healthline, T1D Exchange, Diabetes Strong and more! In her free time, she is jumping rope, scootering with her daughters, or walking with her handsome fella and their dog.