When to Take Atorvastatin: Morning or Night?

Atorvastatin is a medication taken to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Since cholesterol production peaks at night, it’s common to wonder when you should take atorvastatin, in the morning or at night. 

Some doctors recommend taking atorvastatin at night, but because it has a long half-life, it can be taken at any time. Instead, the most important thing with Atorvastatin is making sure that you take it at the same time each day. 

However, there are some statins that should only be taken at night. Continue reading to learn more about these statins, and atorvastatin in particular.

Table of Contents

What is Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin is a medication used alongside weight loss, diet, and exercise to help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. It also helps decrease the likelihood of someone with heart disease (or someone at risk of developing heart disease) needing heart surgery. 

Atorvastatin helps to lower the amount of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) circulating in the blood while also increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). The accumulation of fats and cholesterol along the walls of the arteries can cause blood flow to decrease, limiting the amount of oxygen received by the brain, heart, and other organs in the body. As such, since atorvastatin helps to reduce the amount of these fatty substances in the blood, it prevents this buildup and also prevents chest pain, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. 

Atorvastatin belongs to the class of medications called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also known as statins. These drugs stop the activity of the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme, which is a protein the body needs to create cholesterol. By blocking the activity of this enzyme, cholesterol production lowers. 

When to Take Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin can be taken at any time as long as you take it at the same time each day. This is because taking it at the same time each day helps to stabilize your blood cholesterol levels and prevents them from becoming too high or too low. For some people, taking it before or after a meal or right before bed as part of their bedtime routine might be easiest. 

While atorvastatin can be taken at any time of day, some doctors may recommend taking it in the evening because the body makes the most cholesterol at night. By taking atorvastatin at bedtime, you can target the time when cholesterol production is at its highest. 

However, since atorvastatin has a long half-life of 14 hours, the time that you take it does not matter significantly. This is because, even if you take it in the morning, it will still be present in sufficient amounts at night. 

As such, the most important thing when considering the time to take atorvastatin is when you will be able to be most consistent with it. Many people find that taking atorvastatin with a specific meal is the best way to maintain consistency.

If you forget to take a dose of atorvastatin, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, skip the missed dose if you have less than 12 hours until your next scheduled dose, but then continue your dosing schedule at the time of your next dose. No matter what, do not take a double dose of atorvastatin to make up for skipping a dose. 

How to Take Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin comes as a tablet taken by mouth, typically once a day. It can be taken with or without food but should be taken at the same time each day. 

If you feel nauseous after taking atorvastatin, try taking it with some food. 

Unlike other statins, atorvastatin has a longer half-life, which is why it is only taken once a day and is considered a long-acting statin. The half-life refers to the amount of time it takes the body to remove half of the drug. 

Atorvastatin tablets should be swallowed whole with a drink of water. If you have been given a chewable tablet, chew or swallow it whole, but again, take it with a drink of water. 

It is essential to continue taking atorvastatin even if you feel well and do not discontinue its usage unless you talk to your doctor first. Depending on the reason why you take atorvastatin, you may need to take it for the rest of your life. 

In addition to taking atorvastatin, you should also follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and also any dietary and exercise recommendations made by your doctor. 

Overall, Which Statins Can You Take at Night and Which in the Morning?

While atorvastatin can be taken at any time of the day, as long as the time is consistent, other statins may be stricter regarding what time of day they should be taken. Generally, the type of statin will dictate the time of day it should be taken. Most notably, the half-life determines if a statin should be taken at night.

Statins with short half-lives are generally recommended to be taken with dinner or at bedtime instead of taking them in the morning. This is because, since they have a short half-life, taking them in the morning means there won’t be enough of the drug left in the body by the time night time rolls around, which is when your cholesterol production is at its highest. 

These are some of the statins that are recommended to be taken at night:

  • pravastatin
  • simvastatin
  • fluvastatin
  • lovastatin

Atorvastatin is not the only statin that can be taken at any time; extended-release fluvastatin and rosuvastatin also have half-lives long enough to accommodate taking them at any time. Again, the most important consideration is choosing a time when you can be most consistent with it. 

FAQ

Can I take atorvastatin before sleeping?

Atorvastatin can be taken at any time of the day or night, including right before bed. In fact, some healthcare professionals may recommend you take it right before bed as your body’s cholesterol production peaks while you are asleep, so taking atorvastatin right beforehand ensures that its concentration is high enough to tackle this high production. 

Why is atorvastatin better at night?

Atorvastatin may work better at night because that is when your cholesterol production is highest. Since atorvastatin works by stopping the production of a protein needed to produce cholesterol, taking it before going to bed means its concentration is highest when your body’s cholesterol production is also highest. 
However, because of how long the half-life of atorvastatin is, it does not need to be taken at night and is generally sufficiently effective if taken in the morning. 

Can atorvastatin cause sleep problems?

Some people who take atorvastatin have reported sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, and a higher level of sleepiness during the day. However, other studies have found that atorvastatin does not affect sleep efficiency or total sleep duration. 

When to See a Doctor?

If you have a history of heart problems or high cholesterol, it may be worthwhile speaking to your doctor about starting a statin such as atorvastatin to help prevent cholesterol buildup and the diseases that result from it. They can also recommend other lifestyle changes to make that will help you see the greatest benefit from this drug.

If you’re already taking atorvastatin and are wondering about the best time of day to take it, this is another discussion to have with your doctor. They can help you determine when it is best to take it so that you can maintain consistency. 

If you’re experiencing sleep troubles while taking atorvastatin, reach out to your doctor. They may have recommendations for alternative times to take it to limit sleep disturbances. 

Key Takeaways

Atorvastatin is a medication taken to lower the amount of cholesterol accumulating in the arteries and prevent heart conditions such as stroke and heart attack from occurring. It is generally prescribed along with dietary and exercise regimens. 

Atorvastatin can be taken at any time of the day; the most important thing is consistency. Some doctors may recommend taking atorvastatin at night since that is when cholesterol production is highest, but since atorvastatin has a long half-life, this is not always necessary. There are, however, some statins that must be taken at night. 

One possible complication of atorvastatin is sleep disturbances. If you experience this, reach out to your doctor about changing the time of day you take atorvastatin to minimize it. 

Sources

  • Atorvastatin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2023). https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a600045.html 
  • Trambowicz, K., Gorzelak-Pabis, P., Durma, A., Pypec, A., Lis, E., et al. (2018). Statin use and sleep disturbance – Own experience. Atherosclerosis. 275(229). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2018.06.725   
  • Broncel, M., Gorzelak-Pabiś, P., Sahebkar, A., Serejko, K., Ursoniu, S., Rysz, J., Corina Serban, M., Możdżan, M., Banach, M., & Lipid and Blood Pressure Meta-analysis Collaboration (LBPMC) Group (2015). Sleep changes following statin therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled polysomnographic trials. Archives of medical science: AMS, 11(5), 915–926. PMCID: PMC4624738.
  • Lennernäs H. (2003). Clinical pharmacokinetics of atorvastatin. Clinical pharmacokinetics, 42(13), 1141–1160. https://doi.org/10.2165/00003088-200342130-00005 
  • Adams, S., Tsang, M., & Wright, J. (2012). Lipid lowering efficacy of atorvastatin. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd008226.pub2 
  • McIver LA, Siddique MS. Atorvastatin. [Updated 2022 Nov 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430779/ 

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