This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Child wakes suddenly, screams, does not recognize its mother; sees very small animals, and is much agitated; sometimes has pleasing hallucinations; an abundance of pale colored urine is generally passed during the attack.
This is a somewhat alarming, but by no means a serious, affection, although it may be a precursor of grave disease. It does not indicate the presence of disease of the brain. It is almost always due to disorder of digestion, resulting from late suppers, overeating, eating sweetmeats, candies, etc., the use of too much meat and of tea and coffee.
Much of the nervousness of children is due to the use of meat. In the majority of cases, children would be much better off if they had none at all before ten or twelve years of age, and we have seen very vigorous and healthy children of twelve and fourteen who have never tasted a particle. Nightmare is a mild form of this affection.
All the exciting causes just mentioned should be avoided. The child should have regular meals, not oftener than three times a day after two or three years of age; and should never take food within two or three hours of retiring. Food should be simple and unstimulating. All measures should also be adopted for improvement of the general health, as daily exercise in the open air, exposure to the sun, etc. Children who are old enough should be encouraged to take sufficient exercise to become somewhat fatigued, as sound, refreshing sleep will be secured by so doing. For immediate relief, give a hot bath, with cold to the head, an enema of soap-suds or warm water, an emetic when the stomach is loaded with undigested food, and fomentations to the bowels when distended by gas. A teaspoonful of powdered alum or mustard in half a glass of water will produce prompt emetic effects, if the child can be made to take it. If the child is suffering with night terrors, he should not be allowed to sleep alone, and should be allowed to have a light at night if he desires. He should never be scolded or punished, but should receive sympathy and encouragement.
Nightmare occurs very often in grown people as well as in children. The causes and general indications for treatment are essentially the same as stated above.