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Experts warn of sleep deprivation in kids as school starts

GRANGER, Ind. -- 

As kids head back to school, local doctors want to make sure they are getting enough sleep at night. 

Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep every night, and elementary-aged children need even more, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

"When kids actually grow, their bones lengthen at nighttime." said Dr. Daniel Klauer with TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre in Granger. "So a lot of growth and development occurs at nighttime, and as they're preparing for the classroom and getting back into that academic learning mode, we want to get their sleep schedule back on track."

Dr. Klauer is Board Certified with the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, American Board of Craniofacial Pain, and the American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine. He is the only doctor in a 100-mile radius that carries these 3 board credentials.

He says one of the best ways to make sure kids are getting enough sleep at night is to maintain a consistent schedule. 

"If you do see that your child waking up a lot at night, sleeping with their mouth open and breathing through their mouth at night, waking up to use the restroom or wetting the bed... those are all very prominent factors that disrupt a child's sleep," said Klauer. "So although they may be in bed the entire night, if they're having fragmented sleep... those are all issues that will manifest during the day."

Some of those issues may look like symptoms of ADHD, with children becoming hyperactive, aggressive or have learning problems in school. Lack of sleep can also lead to a heightened risk of health issues later in life. 

Klauer especially advises parents to watch for their child sleeping with open mouths. Breathing through the mouth at night gives the child 20 percent less oxygen than breathing regularly. Plus he says children who snore are known to have lower IQs. 

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that any child with snoring be referred to get a sleep study," he said. 

To help kids get enough sleep at night, Klauer suggests to develop a bedtime routine, and create a sleep environment that is dark and cool, somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees. It is also helpful to turn off all electronics an hour before going to sleep. 

"Everything around us is telling us to go to bed as it gets darker, and if we pop an LED light right in front of our face, it stimulates us really prominently," said Klauer. "So save all those mundane bedtime activities like brushing your teeth, bath, etcetera for that last hour."

More information and tips from Klauer on good sleep hygiene can be found here. 

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