According to a few studies, popping pills dry can cause heartburn – or worse. Without water to wash it down, a pill can release chemicals that could potentially damage your esophagus. Plus, the water helps you absorb the medicine better. To avoid dangerous complications when swallowing pills, it’s always best to wash them down with at least eight ounces of water, while standing or sitting up, never lying down. This means you should avoid taking medication right before bed, or at least 15 minutes before bed, to allow the pill time to travel down the esophagus.