Cybersickness Guide: What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Cure
Cybersickness is probably the word you hear for the first time; however, it has always been there with you ever since you started using the digital services.
Generally, it is a form of motion sickness that occurs when you’re excessively exposed to immersive eXtended Reality (XR) environments, such as virtual reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality applications as well.
About 20% to 95% of digital device users experience some form of cybersickness, varying from a slight headache to an emetic response.
What’s more, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have experienced many health complaints, usually linked to Cyber-sickness.
So, let’s find out all the necessary information to make yourself clear about its causes, symptoms, and, most importantly, the prevention.
Cybersickness What is it, and How to Cure It?
The mystery of cybersickness is quite impressive! There are several terms related to medical and computer science that you need to understand to make everything clear.
So What the Heck is Cybersickness?
The term Cybersickness refers to the discomfort that a person experiences while or after using Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, and other digital devices.
As mentioned above, it is a type of digital motion sickness in which a person feels several unwell feelings and abnormal conditions in their physical and psychological behaviour.
What’s more, ignoring the condition of cybersickness may lead you to severe health diseases.
What Causes Cybersickness?
Cybersickness is usually caused by excessive exposure to smartphones, laptops, tablets, and VR-based devices.
Here’s what it does:
When you’re working on digital devices, your eyes see moving images and signals to your brain that movement is happening.
Furthermore, when you are staring at the digital screen, your brain can suffer from the cognitive dissonance of seeing movements while the rest of your body stays still.
Let’s take an example:
When you are watching a movie or playing a game on Oculus or smartphone, your body is not making any movement. However, your mind makes you feel like you are also moving with the moving things you see in front of you.
Typical causes of Cybersickness include:
- Excessive use of Oculus VR/Augment Reality devices
- Watching videos for long
- Surfing the internet very often
- Playing video games
- Designing digital sketches
- Scrolling too much on pages
- Reading e-books or digital articles
- Or staring too much on any digital screen without having any rest session in between
As a result of too much exposure to digital screens, the inner ear and other body receptors don’t get different responses about the movements that are taking place.
In the end, your central nervous system experiences conflicting messages, and you become a victim of cybersickness!
Cybersickness victims usually observe ill feelings in their physical and psychological behaviour.
Symptoms of cybersickness may include:
You may feel changes in your moods over time. i.e., sometimes you’re happy while sometimes you’re having negative thoughts.
That’s one of the typical symptoms that you face while using too much of a digital device.
Because when you work on a digital screen for long, it makes your body parts tired.
Staring for long on a digital device can also cause fatigue.
Fatigue is a feeling of lack of energy but is not the same as drowsiness or sleepiness.
Vertigo is the weirdest condition of cybersickness, it is a sensation of feeling off-balance, getting out of control, and feeling like you or the world around you is spinning.
It is stomach discomfort and the feeling of wanting to vomit.
You may not vomit but feel like that unless you stop using digital devices.
If you are feeling nausea and are not taking a break from the digital screens, there are possible chances that Cybersickness may also make you vomit in the meantime.
And that’s disgusting!
Dizziness deals with several sensations, i.e., feeling faint, weak, woozy, or unsteady.
It is somehow similar to vertigo but has different symptoms.
Headache is prevalent for smartphones, laptops, and tablet users!
It is usually caused by the blue light that emits from the digital screens that give discomfort feel to your eyes and ends up causing a headache.
A headache is also caused when you don’t make movements while using digital devices.
Cybersickness can also lead to apathetic behaviour.
Apathy is a lack of interest and motivation in daily life works.
It can affect your job interest, relationship, and other daily life activities.
It is a feeling of dizziness, faintness, or being close to passing out.
It is not a severe problem; however, if you feel on a higher level more often than not, you must consult with a doctor.
Working too much on digital devices can make you feel sleepy, which can prevent you from your important work.
Irritability or Restlessness
In this condition, you become unable to rest or relax as a result of excessive computer usage.
Feeling Wobbly, Imbalanced, or Unstable.
You feel weak and have difficulty standing up, walking, and making movements from your legs. [alert type=”info” icon-size=”normal”]Note: Not all these symptoms need to be caused by cybersickness. However, you may be a victim of one or more of these symptoms due to cybersickness.[/alert]
How to Get Rid of Cybersickness?
Cybersickness is not a disease; neither it needs a serious medical treatment to get rid of it.
There are some simple precautions, tips, DO’s and DONT’s that you can utilize to get rid of Cybersickness in no time quickly.
And here they are:
Reduce Digital Device Usage
As mentioned before, Cybersickness is not an illness but is a condition that can happen to many people.
Reducing the usage of digital devices can help you overcome this problem.
Reduce the time you spend on Oculus, smartphones, laptops and only them when you are in serious need of them.
Do some other non-digital works instead of only working in front of the screen.
Divide your time by 20 minutes for digital and non-digital works.
I.e., handle computer work for 20 minutes, then switch to paper or other works.
Exercise Your Eyes
Like any other parts of your body, your eyes also need movements to work rightly.
Focusing too long on screens can cause computer vision syndrome, dizziness, vertigo, and other problems.
There are so many useful eye exercises that you can try; some of them include:
- Close your eyes tightly and then open them. Do this 3 – 5 times.
- Move your eyeballs up, down, left, and right.
- Roll your eyes circularly in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.
- Move your finger 10 inches away from your eyes and focus on it for 30 seconds.
Make Yourself Comfortable
When working on digital devices, make sure that you are in a relaxed and comfortable position.
Do not disturb your body posture while sitting on a computer chair.
Always ensure that your body is relaxed and comfortable while using computers and other devices.
Monitor the Temperature
Ensure that the room temperature is under control because working too long on digital devices at a high temperature can also lead to Cybersickness.
Use Air conditioners in hot weather, and try to keep your room cooler.
Ensure Cross Ventilation
Make sure your room is not packed and has a proper ventilation system.
Because when you are working on digital devices, your breathing speeds up, and you can suffer from unusual feelings.
If your room has good air regulation, you can get enough oxygen and keep yourself safe from Cybersickness.
Take Frequent Breaks
Continuous work on smartphones, VR, and computers is one of the significant causes of cybersickness.
That’s because, when you are not taking a break from digital devices, you can suffer from different conditions like dizziness, headache, fatigue, and so forth.
Use the 20-20-20 rule as it is a helpful way to remind yourself to take regular breaks. More specifically, after every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Chewing gum results in a repetitive motion that can help you relieve the symptoms of cybersickness.
That is, keeping your jaw in motion can let your brain make sense of the conflicting signals between your body balance and vision.
The most effective solution against digital motion sickness is to give physical movements to your body.
Be punctual for morning exercise, and involve yourself in physical activities in different parts of the day.
Do jogging, running, cycling, jumping to keep yourself healthy and fit.
Take a Proper Sleep
Sleeping doesn’t only mean resting on the bed; you need to sleep at the right time and in the right position to give a better rest to your body.
According to health experts, going to bed at around 9:00 to 10:00 PM is suggested to keep yourself healthy.
Also, try to take a 10 – 20 minutes afternoon nap to kill the mid-day tiredness.
Drinking plenty of water keeps yourself hydrated and safe from Cybersickness.
Consume at least 1-2 liters of water throughout your day.
Keep a water bottle with you while using digital devices.
Take frequent sips to stay hydrated and keep working without problems.
Staring at digital screens for long can stop us from blinking, and blinking keeps our eyes active.
Blink your eyes regularly to stay active and refreshed while working on digital screens.
Look Here & There
Don’t just fix your eyes on the screen; instead, look around your room for a second while working on digital devices.
Just try to move your attention from the digital screen to the real world objects for a while.
Use Arrow Keys for Scrolling
Scrolling the screen using arrow keys can reduce the speed at which the data in front of your eyes moves.
That can effectively help you reduce cybersickness caused by a fast-moving object on the screen.
Set a Specific Screen Time
There should be an ideal time of using Oculus, smartphones, and laptops.
You should set a specific time to play games or do other works on digital devices.
That can help you avoid addiction to digital devices, and you can do your other important works throughout the day.
Drink Ginger Water
Ginger water is super effective against nausea, heartburn, and other symptoms related to the Cybersickness.
Try it twice or thrice a week to cure the weird feeling of cybersickness.
You can add lemon with ginger water to make the remedy more effective and tasteful.
How Long Does Cybersickness Last?
The duration of Cybersickness varies with the symptoms you are facing.
However, the symptoms can last for several hours, depending on the condition.
The more you feel fatigued, dizzy, and nauseous, the longer it will take to go away.
Difference Between Motion Sickness and Cybersickness
While Cybersickness is a type of motion sickness, they both differ by themselves by some means.
Motion sickness usually happens when you are travelling by car, plane, boat, or train.
Whereas, Cybersickness is caused as a result of staring too long at the VR and other digital screens. It does not involve the vestibular system and is caused only by visual stimuli like motion sickness.
However, some of both sicknesses’ symptoms are common, like dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea.
Is Cybersickness a Simulator Sickness?
Simulator sickness is also a type of motion sickness commonly faced by aircraft pilots who undergo training for longer periods in flight simulators.
So, is that same as Cybersickness?
The answer is NO!
According to the research on eight experiments from different VE systems, it was unveiled that cyber-sickness symptoms are much different from simulator sickness.
The Bottom Line
The chances of Cybersickness is around you whenever you are working on a digital screen.
However, by identifying its symptoms, you can catch it and get rid of it using some smart tips!
What’s more, Cybersickness shouldn’t be ignored; otherwise, the symptoms can go severe, and you may worsen your health condition.
Thus, keep the precautions in your mind, and try your best to stay away from it whenever it occurs.