Q&A: 6-year-old won't sleep at night

Anonymous writes:

"I am at my wit's end. My 6-year-old will not sleep at night. He has never been able to sleep by himself, and I thought it would get better when he was older, but it hasn't. He sleeps in a twin bed in the same room with his older brother, and there's a nightlight right next to his bed. But he stays awake and won't fall asleep. And when he does fall asleep he wakes up to crawl in with his brother or to come into my room to tell me he loves me.

We're only in the second week of school, but the school nurse called to ask if he was on medication because he's falling asleep in class. So clearly he's exhausted. But he just won't fall asleep. We do all the stuff of no TV before bed, calm, relaxing time before sleep, regular bedtime routine, etc. But it's like he just can't fall asleep at night.

Help."

My first suggestion would be to look at what he's eating in the 6 or so hours before bed. Kids can be affected really strongly by all kinds of things, from caffeine to artificial colors to artificial flavors to preservatives, etc.

So for the next week, have everyone who's with him write down everything he eats or drinks from after school until bedtime. Take a look and see if there are any things that jump out at you, and see what happens if you eliminate them.

If it's not something he's ingesting, I'm kind of at a loss. It just doesn't seem possible to me that a person could be unable to sleep during a certain stretch of hours. So there's got to be *something* that's causing it. I followed up with Anon, and this has been happening for years, in different housing situations and family dynamics. So it's not something in the immediate bedroom environment or some new stress.

Has anyone been through this? Any ideas of things she could look at?