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Why should you take statins at night?

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Taking statins at nightBenefitsSide effectsWhich statins to take at night?Summary
People often take statins at night as they can lower cholesterol levels more effectively when aligned with the natural rhythm of the body. It can also reduce your heart disease and stroke risk.
Medically reviewed by Philip Ngo, PharmD
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on October 24, 2023

Taking statins at night, also known as evening dosing, has gained significant attention due to emerging research supporting its potential benefits. 

Taking statins at night has several benefits because it improves medication absorption and aligns with the body’s natural rhythm of cholesterol production. This leads to better cholesterol reduction and a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Why should you take statins at night?

Older male taking statins and drinking from a glass of water to depict the best time to take statins.
Photography by Trevor Williams/Getty Images

Statins are a commonly prescribed class of medications that lower cholesterol levels in people at risk for cardiovascular diseases. While statins are generally well-tolerated, one of the most common side effects is muscle pain, ranging from mild discomfort to more severe muscle damage.

Severe muscle damage can result in rhabdomyolysis, a condition where skeletal muscle breaks down, releasing electrolytes into the blood. This can cause muscle pain, weakness, and dark urine.

Studies have shown that taking statins at night can help reduce muscle pain associated with statin use. This is because statin-induced muscle pain may be due to disruption of the body’s natural repair mechanisms that typically occur during sleep.

During sleep, your body undergoes various vital processes, including repairing and regenerating muscle tissue. Statins may interfere with these processes, leading to an increased risk of muscle pain or damage. Therefore, taking statins at night, when the body is naturally engaged in repairing and restoring itself, may reduce the medication’s effect on these processes.

A 2017 review compared the effects of statins in the morning versus at night. The researchers found short-acting statins are more effective when you take them at night, while long-acting statins are just as effective in the morning as at night.

However, the ideal time to take statins may vary from person to person. If you’re taking statins or considering starting them, consider talking with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate dosing schedule based on your needs and response to the medication.

Benefits of taking statins at night

Doctors typically recommend taking statins at night as more cholesterol is combined and formed in the body during this time. Taking statins at night can offer several other benefits, including:

  • Healthy circadian rhythm: Cholesterol production in the body follows a daily rhythm, typically peaking in the early morning. Taking statins at night can target this peak, reducing cholesterol more effectively.
  • Improved medication compliance: Taking medications before bedtime can help with adherence, as incorporating them into a nighttime routine is often easier.
  • Reduced risk of muscle side effects: Muscle pain and weakness can be potential side effects of statins. Taking statins at night may reduce the risk of these side effects, as they overlap with the body’s natural repair and recovery processes during sleep.
  • Enhanced LDL lowering: Some studies have suggested that taking statins at night may significantly reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, often called “bad” cholesterol.

Side effects of taking statins at night

Like any medication, taking statins at night can also lead to side effects, including:

  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances: Some people may experience difficulty sleeping when taking statins at night compared to the morning.
  • Gastrointestinal upset: Statins can sometimes cause stomach discomfort, nausea, or other gastrointestinal issues. However, the evidence on this specific side effect and its connection to nighttime dosing is limited, and further research is still needed.
  • Muscle pain and weakness (myalgia): Statins can lead to muscle-related side effects. While taking statins at night might reduce the risk for some people, it’s not guaranteed. 

While some report these side effects, these may only occur in some taking statins at night. The severity and frequency of these side effects can also vary from person to person. 

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Which statins are recommended to be taken at night?

Doctors recommend taking statins at night as the body produces most of its cholesterol during this time. Some statins have a shorter half-life, which means they are eliminated from the body faster and would be more effective at night. Examples include pravastatin (Pravachol) and simvastatin (Zocor).

However, some statins have a longer half-life and can be taken in the morning or evening as they remain in the body for longer. Examples include atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor). Regardless of whether you choose to take your medication in the morning or at night time, you should still take it at the same time every day.

These statins are available in various formulations and doses, and doctors often prescribe them to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. 

However, consider talking with a healthcare professional before starting any statin treatment. They will assess your condition, cholesterol levels, and overall health to determine the most appropriate statin medication.

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Taking statins at night may offer several benefits, such as reducing the risk of muscle side effects. By aligning medication absorption and cholesterol production, taking statins at night may increase their effectiveness and minimize the chance of cardiovascular events. 

However, individual responses to medication may vary, so consider speaking with a healthcare professional first. They can provide personalized guidance and help determine the best dosing schedule for your needs.

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