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The Best Time to Take Cholesterol Medicine

By Lee Morgan ; Updated July 27, 2017

Is it possible there is a significant difference in the effectiveness of taking statins, a class of drug used to slow the production of cholesterol by the liver, at a particular time of day? According to various medical and research websites, including bio-medicine.org, medicinenet.com and others, it does matter.

Night Dosage

It is now generally recommended that cholesterol medicines be taken at bedtime instead of first thing in the morning. Drugs such as Zocor, Simlup, Lipitor and Simvacor (all trade names for simvastatin or atorvastatin) have begun including this dosing recommendation on their labels.

The reasoning behind the recommendations lies in research conducted in England, according to the Bio-Medicine website. Researchers studied 83 patients who were taking simvastatin for varying conditions, including heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. The patients all took their medication at night, but research showed that when some of the patients switched their dosage to the morning, their LDL (bad cholesterol) went up significantly.

Why It Works Better at Night

According to cardiovascular education website CVspectrum.org, studies have suggested the reason nighttime dosage works best in lowering LDL levels is that most cholesterol is synthesized at night while we are not eating. Some studies do exist, however, that say the drugs work equally well no matter which time of day they are given. Most manufacturers seem to agree, though, that taking the medication just before bed is the best for optimum results.


No matter when you take cholesterol medicines (statins), you should be aware of possible side effects. The Mayo Clinic says side effects are usually mild, but occasionally some people do not feel the benefits of the medicine are worth the effects. The listed possible side effects are muscle pain, liver damage, digestive problems, rash and flushing. See a doctor if any of these occurs.

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