How Many Hours Apart Is Three Times a Day? The Right Time to Take Meds

Posted June 11, 2019 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines
Prescription Hope - the right time to take medication

When you’re taking medications, it’s always important that you follow the correct dosage to ensure you’re taking enough – or not too much of your prescription. Dosages are often described in terms of how many per day.

For example, one a day, two times a day, or three times a day. It can often be tricky to work out exactly when you need to take medication like Zofran, Lyrica, and Neurontin (Gabapentin).

So here’s the quick answer then we’ll get into more detail…

How many hours apart is three times a day? When instructed by your doctor or pharmacist to take your medication three times a day, the recommended frequency is usually early morning, lunchtime, and early evening. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist as to any special instructions, such as taking meds with food or on an empty stomach. 

Let’s look into this a little more closely, as this may lead you to wonder how to schedule your dosages and how to best spread out your meds equally over the course of a day. You may be wondering, how do I know I have to take my medication three times a day? Do I have to get up in the night to take my prescription? What happens if I’m in a different time zone? And maybe – how can I best manage my medications, making sure I take them at the correct time?

Read on to find out the answer to these questions to help you discover how to take your medication prescribed three times a day…

How Do I Know I Have to Take My Prescription Three Times a Day?

Pharmacists use a selection of abbreviations to make patients aware of how many times a day and other frequencies that are required to effectively take their medication.

These abbreviations are Latin in origin. Sometimes the abbreviations are written with a ‘period’ in between each character in lower case, sometimes they’re written in lower case without the period, and other times in Capital letters. The Latin word for three times a day is ‘ter in die’. You may see this written in one of the below three ways.

  • t.i.d
  • tid
  • TID

This may lead you to wonder if there are any other ways in which you might be instructed to take your prescription three times a day. Read on to find other ways in which your doctor or pharmacist might require you to take meds three times a day.

how many hours apart is three times a day

Are There Other Ways Pharmacists May Specify Taking Your Medication 3 Times a Day?

medication time

Another couple of ways in which you may be given details of frequency on which to take your prescription are:

3×1 Tablet Daily

This can look a little confusing as you may wonder if you have to take 3 tablets at the same time, but this instruction requires you to space out your medication three times throughout the day. Usually one in the morning, one at lunchtime and another early evening.

If you are in any way unsure as to how to take your prescription, make sure you check with your pharmacist and/or doctor.

Take Every 8 Hours

Tablets or medication that is described to be taken every 8 hours is generally a direction to take your tablets, or medicine 3 times a day.

One very important question many people wonder is if they have to wake up during the night to take their medicines if they have a prescription which states they have to take their meds three times a day. Let’s read on to discover how you can best manage your sleeping times alongside taking your medication.

Do I Have to Take My Prescription During the Night?

Unless specified by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, it is not usually required to take your medications during the night. In general, your requirement is to spread out your tablets or medicine over a waking day period which is approx from 8am to 9pm. A good general rule to follow is:

  • First dose – 9am
  • Second dose – lunchtime (approx between 1pm and 2pm)
  • Third dose – early evening 6pm

Of course, check with your doctor for any special requirements you may have concerning your prescription, such as ensuring you take your medication either a) with food or b) on an empty stomach.

times to take medication

The reason why your doctor would specify the timings of your meds to be at certain times centered around your mealtimes is that the effectiveness of some medication can be affected or you may experience a larger number of side effects.

A good example of this is antibiotics. Some antibiotics are best taken with food which means they are more easily and effectively absorbed into your bloodstream, or some antibiotics may be required to be taken with a meal to ease any stomach issue side effects that may possibly occur. If you are in any way unsure of how to take your meds with regards to food and mealtimes, make sure you get in touch with your doctor or pharmacist to clarify.

When you’re a patient in a hospital, let’s take a closer look at how your three times a day medication is scheduled throughout a day in a hospital environment.

What Does Three Times a Day Mean in Hospitals?

When a patient is in the hospital and prescribed to take meds three times a day, there are regular times spaced out during the days in which the drugs are administered. They’re usually given at the below times

  • 9am
  • 1pm
  • 6pm

When patients are in the hospital, taking meds often follows a routine to coincide with breakfast, lunch, and evening meal. Interestingly, the medication delivery is said to be ‘on-time’ if taken either an hour before or an hour after those times.

Traveling to a Different Country or Time Zone, How to Make Sure You Take Medication Three Times a Day

When you’re traveling to a different country with meds, or across time zones with larger time zone differences it can be difficult to understand when to take your medication. This can be especially awkward to manage the day you’re traveling to and from your chosen country. To keep your meds regularly spaced three times a day, the two main options are either:

  1. Switch to the time zone of the country you’re traveling to – for anything other than shorter trips this is probably the easiest option. So for example, if you take your meds at 9am in the U.S take them at 9am in the U.K
  2. Remain taking your prescription within your home time zone

NOTE: The main aim when rescheduling your three times a day prescription across time zones is to not take more than you’ve been prescribed within any 24 hour period.

We’ve outlined a few tips below to help you schedule your three times a day prescription dosage if you’re out of town or traveling.

  • Set your watch to your home-town time – If you choose to keep and take your medications set to your own home time, it’s a good idea to take a watch with you, with your home town time remaining. It’s easier and more simple to make sure you continue to take your meds at the time your body is used to.
  • Continue to take your pills as prescribed – If you’re required to take your tablets or medicines with food, make sure you keep a selection of small snacks available. Also, remember to take on an empty stomach if that‘s required.
  • Use a pill store box – Using a tablet or pill storage box can help you stay organized when traveling. The boxes have days of the week printed on them to help you more easily work out when you have taken your meds
  • Set an alarm on your phone – Setting an alarm on your phone can help you remember to take your prescription when you’re traveling
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist – if you intend traveling for long periods or taking a long vacation. They’ll be able to advise on what to do if you miss a dose accidentally for any reason.


The overriding point we would like to make here is to use common sense when taking medications. If you’re in any doubt, then contact your prescribing healthcare provider for some advice.

Prescription Hope can help if you have any questions about how to save money on your medication. Prescription Hope’s service manages programs so that you can receive brand-name medication for FREE directly from U.S based pharmaceutical manufacturers. We suggest that everyone looking to save money on their medications should submit an online enrollment form with Prescription Hope.

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