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THE SLEEP SENTRY: A NEW HYPOGLYCEMIA ALARM

by Ed Bryant

The Sleep Sentry was introduced in the Winter 2004 edition of the Voice. I am a type 1 insulin dependent diabetic, and I purchased the Sleep Sentry so I could evaluate it. I am pleased with the watch-like device, but please be cognizant that it is not for everyone.

NOTE: Parts of this article are from the instruction manual, included with each unit.

Diabetes brings the risk of hypoglycemia, low blood sugar. Most often the result of imbalance between food, exercise, and medications, a "hypo," a low blood sugar reaction, can cause disorientation, unconsciousness, and sometimes, the need for an ambulance.

The Sleep Sentry is intended to warn type 1 diabetics of a hypoglycemic reaction, low blood sugars, occurring while they are asleep. It is actually designed to monitor the temperature and moisture level of the skin; symptoms normally associated with insulin reactions. If it does not detect one of these symptoms, if a low blood sugar reaction occurs without them, the alarm will not sound, and it will probably be of no use to the diabetic.

Remember, the alarm is intended to awaken the user, if there has been a temperature drop, or if it is detecting increased perspiration. The alarm does not directly indicate hypoglycemia. If the alarm goes off, and, after checking your blood sugar, you find it is in the normal range, the alarm could have been triggered by its wrist band being too loose, by an extreme change in the room temperature, or if the user perspires excessively or exhibits a drop in skin temperature for reasons other than hypoglycemia, as examples, fever, menopause, or as a side effect of medications.

Diabetes Sentry Products tells me the Sleep Sentry was successful, in initial clinicals 90 percent of the time, in detecting hypoglycemia. The 10 percent failure rate was generally attributed to user error. Some people do not wear the device during the daytime because they sweat more then, which can trigger a false alarm. If you have concerns about undetectable low blood sugar, you might wear the device during the day, as a precaution. Again, the Sleep Sentry is intended for a type 1 diabetic, but can be worn by type 2s as well, to warn them of hypoglycemia.

There is a condition called hypoglycemia unawareness, in which the diabetic loses the ability to tell that s/he is going down, and the next sound you hear may be a siren. What many of us need is a device to warn us we are getting low when we cannot tell for ourselves -- sufficient to warn us to act before we are so far into the hypo we can’t help ourselves.

The Sleep Sentry uses three type #357 button cell watch batteries. This device has only one tactile button on top, which is used for controlling the alarm, and the ON/OFF button.

NOTE: The FDA has approved this device for nighttime use.

After evaluating the Sleep Sentry, I recommend it, because the alarm will detect symptoms of hypoglycemia.

The Sleep Sentry costs $399, shipping included, and may be ordered from: Diabetes Sentry Products, Inc., 1200 Dupont St., Suite #1D, Bellingham, WA 98225; telephone: 1-866-270-5675; Web site: www.sleepsentry.com.