Discussion: 3-year-old sleep habits

Lately I've been bombarded by questions about 3-year-olds and their sleep habits.

I've been trying to figure out a pattern, but the only thing I can put together is something like this:

1. Right around age 3, many kids go to sleep decently with a routine, whether that routine is fast and easy (PJs, brush teeth, book, lights out, child asleep in 5 minutes), or more protracted (PJs, brush teeth, book, water, singing, parent lies down on floor next to crib/cot/bed, child falls asleep in 30 minutes). Whatever it takes, the routine works, and seems to be getting progressively more reliable.

2. Some time approaching 3 1/2, it all goes to hell and the child simply starts refusing to go to sleep. For hours and hours. Despite being clearly tired and having gotten plenty of exercise. Whether the child still naps or not.

These ages may vary, but that seems to be the basic structure. And there doesn't seem to be an easy solution. Parents try reasoning with the child, developing rewards systems for going to bed (and staying in bed), being nasty, locking the child in a room, threats, bribes, starting bedtime later, moving bedtime radically earlier, eliminating gluten/dairy/artificial everything from the child's diet, letting the kid go to sleep in your bed, and/or giving up entirely*.

None of those seem to have any greater success rates than others.

It's frustrating. And I think we try to look for reasons (time change, daylight, external noises, fear of monsters, etc.), but maybe there aren't any.

So I'm opening up a discussion, and you can say whatever you'd like. Complain, offer suggestions, theorize on why this happens, tell funny stories, or concoct elaborate revenge fantasies for when your children are older and want to sleep.

* In my house we like to call that "if you won't go to sleep you're going to have to sit here quietly on the couch and watch The Bachelor with me, and no, you can't have a popsicle."