When is the best time to take medication?

Dr Mark Porter / 24 January 2020

Dr Mark Porter responds to a reader’s medication question.

Q: In light of recent research suggesting that some heart pills are best taken at night, should I be taking all my medicines then?

A: The most important thing for anyone on regular medication is to take it at a time when they are least likely to forget it. Nearly half of all people don’t take their medicines regularly and are missing out on the benefits. Choose a time that best suits your routine.

The next thing to consider is the type of medication you are on. I suspect your question refers to a Spanish study that found blood pressure medication offers better protection against stroke and heart attack if taken before bed. But that is not advisable with all BP medicines. People on diuretics (water tablets such as bendroflumethiazide) would be peeing all night if they did. And there is some concern that night-time dosing may make people feel faint if they have to get up, increasing the risk of falls.

And there are other considerations too. If a drug causes drowsiness – such as amitriptyline used to treat nerve pain – it makes sense to take it before bed. While others, such as cholesterol lowering simvastatin, work better if taken at the end of the day because of their mode of action. Why not ask what is best in your case at your next medication review?

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.