This is a brief guide to the types of insulin and how long each type of insulin lasts over a 24-hour period.
Please note, insulins in each group can vary in their effect and duration of action. Visit the manufactures website for specific information about your insulin.
The fastest-acting insulin, usually taken immediately before meals or as a correction dose. Starts working in 5–10 minutes and lasts 2–5 hours.
Examples include insulin aspart (Novorapid®), insulin lispro (Humalog®), insulin glulisine (Apidra®), insulin aspart (FiAsp®).
Short-acting insulin is usually taken about 30 minutes before meals or just after eating. Starts working in 30 minutes to 1 hour and lasts up to 8 hours.
Examples include human soluble insulin (Actrapid®, Humulin® S and Insuman Rapid®).
Usually taken once or twice a day. Starts working within 2 hours and lasts 8–14 hours.
Examples include isophane insulin (Insuman® Basal, Insulatard® and Humulin® I)
Usually taken once or twice a day. Starts working within 2 hours and lasts up to 18–24 hours.
Examples include insulin detemir (Levemir®), insulin glargine (Abasaglar®, Lantus®, Toujeo®) and insulin degludec (Tresiba®).
These insulins are a mixture of shorter-acting and longer-acting insulins and come in different preparations. Usually taken twice or three times daily, between 15–30 minutes before or just after food. Starts working within 30 minutes (depending on short-acting insulin).
Examples include biphasic insulin aspart (Novomix® 30), biphasic insulin lispro (Humalog® Mix 25, Humalog® Mix 50), soluble and isophane insulin (Humulin® M3, Insuman® Comb 15, Insuman® Comb 25, Insuman® Comb 50).