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Safe Sleep Aids for Moms

Every minute of shut-eye counts when you're a new mom. But sometimes you just can't fall asleep when you need to. When -- if ever -- is it okay to pop a pill?

"Sleep is important no matter how you can get it in the beginning," says Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., former director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University School of Medicine. "I'm fully in favor of quick fixes in certain situations."

A sleeping pill is appropriate on an occasional basis, she says, but you should have backup babycare (Dad counts!) and you shouldn't nurse until the morning after you take one, as the drug may get into your breast milk. Two brands Walsleban likes for new moms? Sonata and Rozerem. "Sonata is short-acting," she says. "It will get you to sleep but allows you to be alert in the morning." Similarly, Rozerem, a nonsedating sleeping pill, won't leave you with a sleep hangover.

Avoid certain sleeping agents, including Ambien, Lunesta, Sominex, Benadryl, and Tylenol PM. They're longer-acting and may be more tranquilizing than you need, says Walsleban.

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