Are you tired and feeling off after a long day in front of the computer screen? Are you experiencing nausea or a headache? Cybersickness could be the cause. Let us read below to know what cybersickness is, what are its causes, symptoms, and ways to manage it.
What is Cybersickness?
If you have ever been through motion sickness, you might know what cybersickness could feel like. Cybersickness, just like motion sickness can make you feel nauseated. This condition occurs when conflicting signals are sent from your senses to the brain. You can have cybersickness while scrolling your computer screen or smartphone through multiple screens, or attending a virtual meeting.
The Science Behind Cybersickness
If you are spending more hours on screens and are feeling sick because of it, you are suffering from cybersickness. Prolonged screen activity can result in cybersickness. This is a phenomenon similar to motion sickness and could result in symptoms like nausea, dizziness, headaches, and migraines.
Cybersickness occurs when you are experiencing visual-vestibular conflict.(1) For instance, cybersickness can occur when your brain gets messages that you are moving, by a flashing screen, when actually you are still.
One familiar example of visual-vestibular is feeling sick while reading a book in a car or any other vehicle. During this, your eyes are focusing on a stationary object(the book), while the rest of your body is perceiving movement. Due to this, a type of confusion gets created where your eyes sense one thing, while your inner ear and body detect another thing. When such kind of mixed messaging occurs, you might start feeling dizzy and nauseated.
Who Are Susceptible To Cybersickness?
Though anyone can experience cybersickness, the most susceptible people are those who have a history of migraines, people having vestibular problems, or those who are prone to motion sickness. Young children, elderly people, and women are also susceptible to cybersickness.
Earlier scientists thought that women were more susceptible to cybersickness. However, a study conducted in 2020 has found that gender is not involved in it, rather cybersickness is caused because of poorly fitting virtual reality headsets. These headsets were designed for men, so they were generally quite big for women and this caused the problem.(2)
What Are the Causes of Cybersickness?
Cybersickness is caused by a misalignment in sensory input that involves the following system:
- Visual System: What message is conveyed to your brain by the eyes.
- Vestibular System: What the inner ear senses feel with regards to the movement of your head and balance.
- Proprioceptive System: What sensory receptors in your body feel
Apart from this, it is also found that cybersickness could be caused due to blue light. Researchers suggest that exposure to blue light for a long will disrupt sleep and it might also be linked to mitigating cybersickness.(3) When people look at blue light-emitting screens for a long, they experience nausea, dizziness, and strain in their eyes.
What Are Its Symptoms?
A study published in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” in 2018 looked at the symptoms of motion sickness and compared them with cybersickness from virtual reality. It found numerous similar symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, feeling hot, and sweating.(4)
It was discovered from a study conducted in 2020 that cybersickness can impact stability, visual functioning, hand-eye coordination, and also overall well-being. (5)
Let us take a precise look at the symptoms of cybersickness.
Nausea is one of the early signs of cybersickness. Strong smells or a suffocating room can aggravate nausea, which could lead to vomiting. Nausea could also get worse when your stomach is full.
Strain On Eye
Staring at a computer screen or other electronic devices can put a big strain on your eyes, which can result in irritation, dryness, and blurry vision. It can also cause fatigue.
Dizziness is another symptom that can be caused due to cybersickness. Dizziness can make you feel disoriented and also make it hard for you to concentrate.
Cybersickness can also cause headaches. Moreover, you might also experience shoulder and neck strain when you remain in one position for too long. Some other symptoms of cybersickness are flushing, drowsiness, and sweating.
How To Manage Cybersickness?
Wear Blue Light-Blocking Glasses
Blue light-blocking glasses can help with cybersickness and it has been proven scientifically. This is because these glasses protect your eyes from the harmful blue light that gets emitted from the computer or smartphone screens.
Blue light is high in energy and can harm you if you are exposed to it for a long and can cause symptoms like digital eye strain, headaches, migraines, blurry vision, irregularity in sleeping patterns, and difficulty concentrating.
Wearing blue light-blocking glasses can help you prevent cybersickness and help you protect your eyes and overall health.
Reduce Screen Time:
Reduce your screen time if you are experiencing symptoms of cybersickness. Take breaks from time to time. Do not wait till you fall sick.
You should stop looking at the screen continuously. Take structured breaks every 30 minutes. Health experts and researchers recommend taking breaks and getting up every 30 minutes, which could help get rid of cybersickness.(6)
Other Ways To Manage Cybersickness
- Get adequate sleep every night.
- Take care of your diet and exercise. Drink lots of water.
- Blink more often.
- Make sure that the lighting in the room where you work in front of the screen is adequately bright.
- Check that your virtual reality headsets fit securely.
Cybersickness is experienced by many people. If you too are experiencing the symptoms of cybersickness, pay attention to it. Though occasional bouts of cybersickness can be checked by yourself, however, if you are severely ill, then you should check with your doctor.