Is It True That 24-Hour Medications Work Better If They're Taken at Night?

·2 min read

Chances are you've had to take a 24-hour medication at some point in your life. They exist to treat a whole slew of common health problems, like allergies, indigestion, blood pressure, and more. However, while adding these medications is ultimately beneficial to treat your ailment (or so you hope), you first need to determine when is the best time of day to take it. To answer that question, we consulted a doctor who provides the most recent research on this topic.

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Should 24-hour medications be taken at night?

According to Natasha Bhuyan, MD, of One Medical, the time of the day to take a medication really depends on the medication itself. She explains that most medications are taken once per day (either in the morning or at night) and will indicate on the bottle when to take them.

woman reading medicine label
woman reading medicine label

Terry Vine / Getty Images

Which medications are best to take at night?

Research has shown that certain medications are best taken at night to have the maximal effect, Dr. Bhuyan says. Blood pressure medications, for example, work more effectively if taken at night; she explains that research in 2019 found taking blood pressure medications at night reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The same goes for allergy medications. "Allergy medications are also more effective when taken at night," she says, "because they have peak performance around 12 hours after taking them so the medications will help fight the morning pollen."

Another medication that works better overnight? Heartburn medication. As Dr. Bhuyan explains, "heartburn medication is also most effective when taken at night as heartburn often flares for people overnight when lying down." On the other hand, medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect are also best taken at night as activities such as driving can be dangerous.

Which medications should be taken in the morning?

However, not all 24-hour medications should be taken at night, some should be taken in the morning. "There are medications which are best taken on an empty stomach, such as for your thyroid or bone density, which should be taken first thing in the morning," she says. The last thing to consider is the impact of the medication on your sleep. Dr. Bhuyan explains that stimulant medications, such as those for ADHD, should be taken in the morning as they can disrupt sleep. Since figuring out when to take medications can be tricky, Dr. Bhuyan recommends asking your primary care provider any and all questions. "We are here to help!"