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How to check your blood glucose levels

Checking your blood glucose is straight forward, but it can be hard to get used to at first.

To check your blood glucose levels:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Put a test strip into the blood glucose meter.
  3. Attach a lancet to the finger picker - use a fresh lancet every time.
  4. Place the finger picker to push the lancet in.
  5. Press the button on the finger picker to push the lancet in.
  6. Gently squeeze your finger until you have a drop of blood.
  7. Hold your finger so the blood touches the top of the test strip.
  8. Read the numbers on the screen of your meter.

When to check blood glucose levels

Try to check your blood glucose:

  • when you wake up
  • before meals
  • before bed
  • before, during and after physical activity - take a break during exercise to check your levels
  • before driving or operating machinery
  • if you feel unwell or feel like your blood glucose levels are high or low
  • if you have been drinking alcohol

This helps you understand your blood glucose levels and how they're affected by meals and physical activity.

Blood glucose - the numbers

The ideal range for blood glucose levels are:

  • on waking up or before breakfast: 5 to 7 millimoles per litre (mmol/l)
  • before other meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
  • before bed: 5 to 9mmol/l

This is a guide - your diabetes team will agree the best range with you.

Your blood glucose levels can be affected by many things, including:

  • what you eat and drink
  • stress
  • illness or infection
  • some medicines
  • being more or less active than usual
  • pain
  • periods
  • drinking alcohol

Managing your blood glucose levels

Page last reviewed: 17 October 2023
Next review due: 17 October 2026