My son is 4 years old and will not sleep at night. He stopped taking naps during the day at 1 and a half. He has never slept good. He gets up at 6:30am everyday. When we get home I get him to play in the backyard, go swimming and he plays soccer just to try to get him tired. He lays down at 9:00 pm with lights off. Then as soon as we leave the room he is back up playing. If we try to lay with him till he falls asleep he will just lay there and talk all night it is 1:30 to 2:00am every night untill he actually falls asleep! I have tried many things but nothing has worked so I'm lost. Please help!
It is hard to say what the root cause is (and without an opinion of qualified medical professional, I would NOT recommend that you rely on Internet Random Opinion on how safe it is for your kid to get so little sleep. Personally, I would check with his pediatrician but if it lasted for months/years with no obvious ill effects, that doesn't seem like emergency. I'm not a doctor and don't play one on TV!).
But if you feel (as it seems) that he's too distracted to sleep, perhaps removing the disractions may help a bit:
- No toys in the room overnight.
- No light on overnight (except maybe a very weak nightlight for safety if you feel it's needed). Kill the fuse if you need to.
- No parental presence after a preset small limit (5-30 mins bedtime reading or non-exciting story... although my kids liked Star Wars at the age of 3 so who am I to judge excitingness?)
- No noise from him (with punishments if you hear any). If he doesn't care about his sleep, explain that it interrupts YOUR sleep. At that age he's old enough to NOT want to hurt parents.
- If he is concerned to sleep alone, make sure you have baby monitor and make sure he knows (and demonstrate) that you hear him and will come if he REALLY needs you.
- With our kids, the sleeping toys were a leverage. "Fall asleep in the next 10 mins and you can sleep with $favorite_toy. If not, in 10 mins the toy sleeps with me!"
Also, check if there are specific circumstances where he sleeps better or worse? White noise? absolute silence? soft music? No food 1 hr before sleep? Glass of milk before sleep (that is a popular folk remedy to help sleep, betwetting concerns nonwithstanding).
There's children that do not need more sleep than yours. They aren't many, and they certainly are a minority, but there are a few.
I'd have him checked out by a doctor to find whether there's an issue preventing him from sleeping, but if he is up and about in the morning and doesn't even nap during the day, you might be one of the unlucky parents blessed by such a child.
As for practical advice, I think there might apply what applies to newborns (some of which also sleep very little throughout the nights):
- consider sleeping in shifts
- when your child sleeps, you always sleep, too
- try to recruit help from relatives (granny?)
When it is very hard, try to look forward to when he is older, and the extra hours will be a blessing to him, because he can learn so much more in any given time than his peers. If you help him to become a curious kid interested in learning, he might turn out a genius.