Does it really matter what time of day you take medications?

It depends on the medication!

Having a set time to routinely take your medications can help you avoid accidentally missing a dose. Unless the directions specify otherwise, I recommend incorporating your medications into a morning or nighttime routine to help you remember. For example, you could always take your medications right before you brush your teeth.
We often recommend that you take medications called diuretics or “water pills” in the morning because they may cause people to have to urinate more frequently. Taking these medications earlier in the day helps decrease the chance that you will have to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Other medications must be taken at a certain time because food can affect how your body absorbs them. For instance, the thyroid medication levothyroxine should be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach in order for it to work. On the other hand, you might be told to take some medications with food. Sometimes this is because it decreases the chance of the medication upsetting your stomach, at other times food can also help your body absorb certain medications better.

Finally, we recommend some medications be taken at bedtime. Often, this is because the medication can cause drowsiness. Another reason might relate to how the medication works. For instance, simvastatin and lovastatin are used to lower cholesterol. Because the body makes more cholesterol while we sleep, these medications are most effective when taken at night.

Always ask a pharmacist if you have questions about how to best take your medications!


Chloe Nelson will graduate as a Doctor of Pharmacy in May from University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy (formerly St. Louis College of Pharmacy).