He sleeps in our bed. I'm totally fine with that, and he does have the option of sleeping in his own bed but he's never shown the slightest inclination. Left to his own devices, he would consistently go to bed midnight or later. We have tried bedtimes as early as 6pm and it's no use... The earlier the bedtime, the longer bedtime takes. I think theoretically 8 or 9pm would be ideal for him (to get ~12 hours sleep) and for our schedule.
He has severe anxiety and he's also just generally very high-needs and requires constant stimulation & interaction. He was in EI for a while for social/emotional/sensory issues but they were never able to help with bedtime. He stopped napping almost 2 years ago so he needs to get all his sleep in at night. With a midnight bedtime, he's only getting about 9 hours of sleep (not to mention I'm getting absolutely no alone time or time with DH when he's home, and DS misses time with daddy in the morning, the only time DH is home, since he sleeps so late).
I'm worn out & emotionally drained. DH isn't home at night during the week so I have to do bedtime by myself. He likes to be cuddled to sleep but it takes hours and I just cannot lay in bed for hours on end. I've tried reading myself books to keep myself in bed with him but he still drives me nuts, constantly asking for things or rolling around or playing or hurting me and never ends up settling down. I used to read him to sleep but he kept staying awake longer & longer. I've tried really soft, gentle, soothing stuff. I've tried letting him lead the way, and tried taking the reigns myself. We've tried tons of various routines. I've even tried strict, Supernanny-style methods on occasion (and against my better judgement), which just left us both in tears and still no sleep. We've tried playing music or audio books while he layed in the office chair, and that was the most successful thing yet -- but it only lasted a couple of months. It seems like once he makes the association between a bedtime routine and sleep, he fights it hard. He has never ever slept well, he hates sleeping, he's afraid of sleeping. He is waking less once he's asleep (down to 1-5 times from 30+ times/night!) But when I wake up in the morning, he almost always wakes up too and is up for the day, even if it's way too early. I myself can't sleep for more than 6-8 hours a night so I don't see how I can just stay in bed with him for the 12 hours he needs to sleep and I can't lay in the dark for hours cuddling him while I'm wide awake.
He gets tons of outdoor time. He doesn't eat lots of sugar or caffeine. He gets social time, active time, lots of learning opportunities, etc. We have tried blackout curtains, a nightlight, white noise, favorite doll/animal, weighted blanket, various temperatures, various pj's/nothing, homeopathics... I've tried waking him up at the same time every morning, letting him sleep as late as he needs to... He is very verbal but cannot provide any insight into the bedtime thing.
I'm so frustrated and sad and miserable and completely at my wit's end!! I need creative solutions. Bedtime cannot take 3, 4, 5+ hours every. single. night. This is tearing me apart and I feel like the worst mother in the world.