High school son won't wake up to alarms: help!

Hi All!

I found this group at 1:30 this morning while treating my son for a low. Nine glucose tabs and 2 hours later, I finally went back to sleep. I promised myself to join this group today and try to get some support and input from others in the same boat. So here goes…

I am a single mom of a 17 year old high school junior who has had T1D for 9 years. My son is on the Omnipod with a Dexcom G5 cgm. He seems to have hypo unawareness overnight. After having a few overnight lows in the 20s, the doctor recommended the cgm. The problem is he does not wake up for any of the alarms. I am very concerned because he will be going off to college soon and I won’t be with him to treat his lows. Does anyone else’s kids have this problem? Do most kids feel their lows overnight?

I would love any input or comments on this problem. Thanks in advance!


Hi @mlg! Welcome to FUD!

You’re not the only parent who experiences this problem, others on this forum have the same problem. @Michel started this topic a couple of months ago. Perhaps there’s some good advice for you.
Have you already tried the trick with putting the Dexcom receiver in a metal bowl containing some coins or other metal junk? Apparently that makes a terrible noise when the alarm goes off.


Welcome @mlg!

My son is only 4 (diagnosed at 2 yo), but I’m having difficulty waking up myself now to alerts. This thread has some great recommendations for how you can make alerts louder, etc., so that your son can hear the alerts.

I am planning on purchasing the Sonic Alert System, because it allows me to have other external sources of light/sound that will enable me to wake up. You may want to consider investing in such a device!

Again, Welcome!


Also, one other thing we have done that has helped us avoid lows for our son during the night is to set the “low” alert up to 100. During the day, we usually have this set to 70. By setting it to 100 during the nights, it will give your son more time to hear/correct. If set to 70, by the time he hears it, he may already be very low. Something else to consider!


Some of the alerts are more annoying (and effective) than others. I use my iPhone to get alerts, and I use the siren alert for the urgent low glucose. I do a better job of waking up to that than my low alarm.

I really liked @Boerenkool’s metal bowl of coins idea. I bet it would drive my neighbor’s nuts though!!

Welcome to the site!!! I hope you can find some solutions. Lows in the 20s are pretty scary.


That’s a good idea! He doesn’t use the transmitter, but I can put his phone on vibrate and have the same effect. Thanks!


Thanks for all the great ideas! I will go back and look at those threads.

Yes lows in the 20s are very scary. I have heard of many who will wake up when they are low on their own. Have you guys found this to be the case or not? He has not once ever woken up because he was low. It is only because I check him at night.


The receiver vibrates a lot more violently than a cell phone… maybe it would be worth using the receiver just at night with the bowl trick…


Good to know. I wonder if you can have it on both at the same time. We have never used the receiver, only the cell phone. I will try it. I will try anything at this point.

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Yes you can have both on at the same time…although I ruined a receiver once by trying to activate the sensor with the receiver and with the phone at the same time though… don’t do that…

I’d just leave the receiver permanently plugged in to the cord and and in a bowl in his bedroom… do everything else as before with the phone. The receiver loses the signal far far less often than the phone too so it actually works better particularly while sleeping

Another idea might be to put the receiver attached to him somehow, maybe an arm band or something with it tucked in… it vibrates strong enough I think it’d wake most people up rather rudely


Does your son feel his lows during the day? Like, would he know he’s low even if he didn’t have his Dexcom telling him?

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Thank you Sam! I will try that. I think the receiver attached to him might work. I will let you know how it goes.


He does feel daytime lows, but not the ones when he is sleeping. He really doesn’t depend on the cgm that much during the day for low alarms.
I am always surprised when I hear people say they wake up for the lows. He has not woken up for a low in 9 years! Even when in the 20s.

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Sometimes I will wake up for lows, but it’s inconsistent. Before using a cgm, if I did wake up in the middle of the night because of a low, it was usually REALLY low, and I had a really hard time not eating the whole kitchen. Relying on the cgm to wake me up works much better.


Glad it is working well for you! Do you have trouble waking up with the alarms?

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Occasionally my (3-year-old) son will wake up with a terrifying dream when he’s very low – but most of the time he sleeps through his lows. HE also sometimes has bed-wetting accidents I’ve convinced myself are tied to lows.

My sense is that waking up to a hypo is both common and also a very unreliable thing even for those who usually sense their lows at night… which is why all the CGM alerts are necessary.

And congratulations on getting your little one this far…I can’t imagine how scary it must be to send him off to college next year, but know we’ll have to face that reality sooner than we imagine.


Sometimes. I need my phone to be a little ways away from me in order to wake up. I couldn’t have it attached to me as @Sam suggested because I would turn it off in my sleep.

I wake up really well to the urgent low glucose alarms, but occasionally I’ll sleep through the low alarms. The urgent low starts at 55. I’m not super worried about hovering in the 60s for awhile, so this is fine for me.

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The problem I had with Dexcom is I have so many false low alarms at night that I learned not to take it seriously. It’s my boy who cried wolf

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I’ve heard that from a lot of people! It’s never been an issue for me though. If it was, I’d probably never wake up to the alarms…

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We get a lot of false alarms too. Last night cgm said LOW with 2 arrows down. When I checked on his meter he was actually 80. The arrows though really help. I gave him 3 glucose tablets and turned off his basal insulin and 20 minutes later he was in the 50s and then half an hour later still in the 60s. It took 9 glucose tablets to get him above 100. I thought he would be sky high this morning but was 170. He ate half a box of Cheerios before bed, but I would say he probably over bolused.

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