Here are some methods to overcome Virtual Reality (VR) Sickness
Virtual Reality sickness—also known as cybersickness—is closely related to motion sickness and affects different people differently. For some, its effects are very mild, while others can become very ill, very quickly.
Common symptoms of VR Sickness include:
- Eye strain
- and even vomiting in severe cases.
While there is typically no actual “movement” during VR travel experiences, the brain is “tricked” into thinking that it is moving due to visual input from the eyes, but the body and inner ear remain still, and it is this disconnect that can cause VR motion sickness in some people.
While traditional motion sickness is generally considered to affect young children and slowly abate as one approaches adulthood, VR Sickness is thought to affect older people more than the young.
Many of us who have watched our children play video games can attest to this.
So, if you are new to the virtual reality world and you think: "I won't try it because I will get sick," the good news is that it is actually possible to overcome VR Sickness without using any crazy tricks.
What causes VR Sickness?
As we mentioned before, VR Sickness is caused by conflicting signals sent to the brain from your eyes, inner ear, and body tissue sensory receptors.
Also, some gamers experience a pronounced feeling of illness when they watch a digital representation of themselves appear to move quickly in a digital environment while their physical body remains stationary.
One article on techtarget.com gives an interesting statistic:
Software engineers who develop VR and augmented reality (AR) environments typically assume that 25% of viewers will experience VR motion sickness. This is the same percentage of people who experience motion sickness on an airplane while traveling through low altitude turbulence.
Motion sickness vs. cybersickness
The majority of us have experienced motion sickness in a car or seasickness on a boat. All of a sudden, you’re sick to your stomach.
The next thing will be a friend or your mom handing you a bag and stopping the car or telling you to go up on deck and focus on the horizon.
Eventually, your eyes synchronize with your other senses to set things right again.
With cybersickness, it’s not actual movement like the rolling of a boat that triggers it.
It’s only the perception of movement that sets off the symptoms. Still, focusing on a steady object or following the direction of the object can turn things around.
For example: If you are on a tour inside a car and the car turns to the right, move your eyes in that direction. Doing the opposite can trigger VR Sickness.
How long does VR Sickness last?
Still not scientifically proven, however, is the fact that some VR users said that their sickness starts to go away when they get up and move around.
Also, when they synchronize their motions to the action of a video or game, it alleviates mixed signals to the brain.
VR motion sickness can last for hours, but if it doesn't resolve itself after a few hours or if you vomit continuously, you should consult a health professional for VR motion sickness.
How to avoid VR Sickness?
First, there are two important factors to avoid before any VR experience:
- Avoiding eating heavy foods before long periods of screen time
- Avoiding electronic screens when in a moving vehicle
There are some ways to prevent VR motion sickness before it starts. Here are some of the most common suggestions:
- Using a fan: Aim the fresh air at your face and keep the room ventilated and free of strong odors.
- Eat ginger beforehand: As weird as it sounds, Ginger has long been used as an alternative medication to prevent nausea.
- Aromatherapy: Now that diffusers and essential oils are popular, using a room diffuser or placing a few drops of lavender or ginger essence on your wrist, for example, may help reduce nausea.
- Wear a Wristband: Some people say that this doesn't work, but it is based on the ancient healing art of acupressure, a form of traditional Chinese medicine. You use a band at point P-6, also called Neiguan, which is located on your inner arm near your wrist. Performing acupressure on this point can help relieve nausea and vomiting.
Medication: This is one that most people will avoid, but if you feel a lot of sicknesses, it might be the only thing that works for you.
If you’ve ever felt seasick on a boat or dizzy on a car ride, there’s a good chance someone recommended that you take Benadryl or Dramamine (drowsy-formula antihistamines medications).
However, before taking medications, read the following method that most VR users have tried and works for them.
The best method of overcoming VR Sickness
Everyone is different and there are lots of "rules" that get posted, but it seems like each person is a mix of what DOES and what DOESN'T get them sick.
However, there is hope to overcome VR motion sickness. According to advanced VR users and gamers, the best method is BABY STEPS.
They mention that new users will start to build up resistance to VR Sickness, but only if you do things PROPERLY.
- Step one is simply taking it slow.
- If a video or game makes you feel queasy, start out by limiting your play sessions to just a few minutes at a time.
- When you start feeling uncomfortable, shut your eyes, breathe deeply, and take a short break before trying again. Also, it is not a bad idea to remove your headset and take a long break, about 5 or 6 hours should do it, but it can also be overnight.
- If you gradually increase the time you spend in VR environments, there’s a good chance you’ll overcome the discomfort in just a few days’ time.
Most people seem to get over it. Anecdotally, it seems like there are a small number of people who unfortunately don't. You're doing the right thing taking the headset off when you start feeling bad. Over time, you'll probably find that you can last longer and longer doing that stuff. Don't push yourself and spend lots of time with experiences that you feel comfortable with and enjoy.
Soypancho - Reddit user
Bonus Idea: Cybershoes—as you can guess from the name—are shoes that let you walk in VR games or impart the feeling of walking on a tour, for example.
They are designed to be worn over your footwear and have a solid wheel on the underside that registers your movement.
They have helped some people improve their VR motion sickness and enjoy better VR experiences.