This topic comes up often here, and I am all too happy to take the opportunity to vent.
Ds1- awake hours after he was born- and alert! We have pics from the whole first day with him looking intently at whomever was holding him or at the camera. He slept for 1-2 hr stretches for a total of 10 hrs/24. We brought him home immediately, but he was around 32 weeks, so it isn't too surprising that he wasn't on a diurnal cycle yet at that point. He began napping after 6 months, when he began to sleep most of his 10 hrs at night. He had two 1-hr naps, dropping to just one at 12 months, but adding the other to the night and then dropped his second nap at 14 months, right when ds2 was born. Now he sleeps 10 hrs, just beginning to sleep through at 3.5. He's 5.5 now and still only sleeps 10 hrs.
Ds2 dropped second nap at 12 months and second nap was gone at 16 months (right when ds3 was born). He still doesn't sleep for more than three hrs in a row, and shrieks when he wakes- every time. 10 hr sleeper then and still; he's 4 yrs old.
Ds3 also slept much less than average and dropped his 1st nap at 12 months and the second one went at 18 months- although his naps were never more than 20 minutes each. 10 hrs for him too, but he's much happier if he sleeps 11.
I had high hopes for ds4's napping. He dropped one nap at 8 months and only naps every second day or less and only for 15-20 minutes, long enough to keep him up from 8am to 11pm-1am. It is insane. And he nurses all night long. If we go into town, he sleeps in the van, so if he's had a few 1am nights and short naps, we purposefully go for the drive in so he'll sleep for 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. Otherwise, at home, he'd just go and go and go.
I have always been an insomniac and suffer chronic illness as a result. Right now I am working with a naturopath whose assistance has garnered me sporadic actual sleep for a few hours every second night or so, which is double what I had before! So, I am feeling better, but still need so much more sleep than I am having.
I am concerned that given that my boys grew in my body, deficient of proper hormonal activities from my ailing endocrine system, they have inherited the same problem- the reason why I don't sleep. It is possible that this is why I could stay awake all night thinking as a child and even now, and how I would have formed this as a habit. I wonder if I was well, could I reform my behaviour to be conducive to sleep? I guess I'll see.
They sometimes go through phases of 8 or 9 hours/night. Then after a few weeks of this, they end up sick enough to keep them in bed the usual 10 hours, and they are reset by that. The cycle seems to be about two months long. I am diligent about their nutrition and they don't stay sick for more than three days, no matter what they've caught and how many weeks other people are out with it. They always manage to still be up and playing for the whole day regardless, stopping only to vomit or for short rests on the couch.
I grow very weary of criticism about how if I would just do xyz then my dc would sleep. Sleep for some of us is a very complex issue, the least of which being that while I can insist upon them being in bed, I cannot will
them to sleep- even as I cannot do the same for myself. I have done everything possible (within limits and excluding baby-training).
I had to share my experience and frustration at the criticism regarding noise while dc are sleeping- people who think that because they vacuumed while their lo was sleeping, s/he sleeps through everything. There are just so many variables that this is just too simplistic a conclusion. One of our children can sleep through noise- ds2. The rest, even ds4 who should be the most accustomed to enduring it, cannot- right from birth, or more accurately from in the womb. It was frustrating to me when I'd be out and sitting quietly with my unborn baby asleep in my belly only for him to be startled awake by someone yelling or worse, honking or setting off car alarms while I was awake in the dark in our livingroom, unable to sleep myself.
Sleep is by far our family's biggest challenge, and while that might seem melodramatic, keep in mind that I have been near death many times as a result of this issue and that our life is far from normal as my functionability is drastically reduced relative to my ambition and it is much harder for me to keep up with our needs than for most, even other mums of gifties. I have nothing left after doing the most basic things for everyone to do anything that is for me or my interests, and I am no super-mom, by any stretch. The best I can do for my dc is to give them a loving home; everything non-essential to our relationships is a far far second and rarely addressed. As my health improves, I hope this aspect of our life will too.
I suspect our dc will begin to have enough sleep when the amount they currently have becomes 'commensurate' with their ages.