How to Overcome Virtual Reality Sickness

Slipping on a virtual reality headset is the ticket to an exciting and immersive experience in an alternative environment. You can make this jump without ever leaving your living room thanks to virtual reality technology. But as virtual reality gains traction, some people are noticing some unpleasant side effects from playing. Virtual reality sickness is a type of motion sickness that can happen when you use this technology, but you can take steps to reduce its symptoms.

vr motion sickness

How Virtual Reality Works

Virtual reality uses computer technology to create a virtual, simulated environment. Users of virtual reality wear a headset that provides them with a full visual display of the three-dimensional environment, completely blocking out the surrounding real environment. The technology connects the user with the virtual reality world via head and body movements, enabling users to pick up and interact with objects. Although completely computer-generated, virtual reality creates a believable illusion of an alternative environment that is immersive and interactive.

What Is Virtual Reality Sickness?

One drawback of virtual reality is virtual reality sickness. After only about 15 minutes of play, between 40 and 70 percent of players will begin to feel motion sickness. This illness includes symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and pallor. Women may be more susceptible to virtual reality sickness because women experience motion sickness more than men do. The most probable theory about why people feel sick after engaging in virtual reality play is because what your eyes see doesn’t fully coincide with your physical balance and spatial orientation while playing. The body naturally responds to this sensory conflict with nausea and vomiting.

Tips and Advice to Avoid Virtual Reality Sickness

You may be able to minimize virtual reality sickness with a few adjustments. The first thing to do if you start feeling sick is to stop playing and take the headset off. If you continue playing, the symptoms will only get worse and last longer. Try getting up, walking around, and getting fresh air. Don’t try to resume play for at least a couple of hours.

  1. First-generation antihistamines that make you drowsy may help with preventing motion sickness.
  2. Check your headset for fit. A headset that is too large will increase the distance between the pupils, which may increase unpleasant symptoms. Your eyes should be centered with the two interior lenses in the headset. Check the headset settings and adjust the lenses to a narrower setting to match your pupils.
  3. Adding extra layers of sensory information can help the brain digest the sensory input. Have music or noise in the background to ground your brain. Some people like to spray a scent in the room as well.
  4. More expensive VR systems present the visual effects with a dynamic depth of field, meaning that specific objects are in focus and the background is blurred. This simulates the natural way the eye works. Gaming systems that replicate the way the human eye works will often reduce motion sickness.
  5. It may also help to move your body while you play. At a minimum, try to swing your arms or move your torso regularly to keep nausea in check. Movement helps the brain process conflicting sensory information.