When you pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, the label may say it should be taken "everyday" or "once daily." While that's clear enough, it leaves open the question of whether one time of the day is better than others.
For most drugs, it doesn't matter all that much, but it is important to take it at roughly the same time each day, according to pharmacist Julie Kaplan, senior medical writer at Rx411.net. If the prescription calls for taking the medication several times a day, you should try to evenly space out the doses so that roughly the same amount of time passes between each dose.
In the morning
Many drugs work best when taken in the morning.
For example, if you are taking a diuretic for high blood pressure or certain heart conditions, it's better to take it in the morning, since the medication causes increased urination. Take it at night and you'll have a hard time getting a good night's sleep.
Or say you're taking a drug for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). These medications increase concentration and can cause insomnia if taken at night.
Drugs that block the production of stomach acid, like Nexium and Prevacid, are also best taken in the morning, when your body is most likely to be producing large amounts of acid to aid in digestion, Kaplan says.
Some drugs need to be taken on an empty stomach -- like the osteoporosis drugs Boniva and Fosamax. These drugs interact with food in a way that decreases their effectiveness so they do better when taken as soon as you wake up.
Some drugs, like Zyrtec and other antihistamines, can cause drowsiness and are best taken at night.
What to do
How is a consumer supposed to know all this? Kaplan says it's simple -- you're not. That's why there are pharmacists. If you have any questions about a drug, it only takes a second to ask your pharmacist about it. Although pharmacists today are busier than ever, they're nearly always happy to answer questions, so don't be afraid to ask.