The more popular that virtual reality becomes, the more we hear about virtual reality sickness, or motion sickness while playing in VR. It can be a serious issue for some, and one that can linger long after you take off the headset. There are some steps you can take, however, to prevent this less than displeasing reaction from ruining your VR experience.
In this article, we’ll explain what VR sickness is, and share some easy to follow steps for VR motion sickness relief.
What is VR Sickness?
It’s All In Your Head… Literally!
Virtual Reality Sickness is a condition that feels very similar to motion sickness. It occurs when our brain, eyes, and ears are out of sync. Various possible symptoms include: disorientation, dizziness, nausea, headache, sweating, excessive salivation, lethargy, and even vomiting.
Why Does This Happen?
There Is An Explanation!
According to various health, science, and medical sites, the human body has a network known as the vestibular system, which consists of your inner ear, your eyes, and a process called proprioception.
Proprioception is a process by which your muscular and nervous systems collaborate to sense movement.
Because you inner ear has motion sensing organs, responsible for helping to control your body’s sense of balance, motion sickness can appear quickly when your movement, or lack of, isn’t in sync with your vision and what your brain is saying.
This type of response most often occurs during travel; on car rides, boat rides, airplane rides, and amusement park rides (think teacups, ugh).
Recently, however, in the rise of virtual reality applications and games, people are reporting motion sickness symptoms during or after using VR. Because virtual reality stimulates all of the body’s senses, the opportunity arises for sickness when those senses get out of sync.
What Can You Do To Prevent Virtual Reality Sickness?
Prepare Yourself Before You Put Your Headset On!
“Just do it” is not the catch phrase you want to use prior to strapping on your VR gear.
There are several things you can do to try to prevent experiencing VR sickness.
Here are some easy to follow steps that may allow you to enjoy VR without the worry and pain of an uncooperative inner ear:
1. Proper Calibration
This Can Be One Of The Most Important Variables!
Calibration is one of the first steps you take in setting up your new VR headset.
It involves choosing settings for your tracking sensors, and setting your display to line up with your eyes. Often times, people will leave the default settings, not realizing that they may be a large factor in their VR experience. Don’t skip this step during Setup!
Once the initial calibration is complete, users often forget all about it. This may be fine if you never have any issues. (If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?)
What happens, though, if you share your headset?
Have you ever put on a pair of prescription glasses that aren’t yours? When the prescription is not meant for your eyes, the result can be dizzying, nauseating, and cause headaches.
Chances are that the person playing VR after you would not have the same calibration settings. So, while it’s nice to share your toys, this could cause some unwanted VR Sickness.
Solution? Re-calibrate in between players, or buy another headset!
Your Body And Your VR System
How do you optimize your BODY to have the best VR experience?
- Don’t eat right before you play (think swimmer’s rules).
- Keep your body cool.
- Hydrate with plenty of water prior to starting.
- Wear loose or active-fit clothing if you are engaging in high motion VR.
- Use a fan to blow cool air on you as you move.
How do you optimize your VR SYSTEM to have the best experience?
For starters, follow the required and/or recommended hardware guidelines.
Yes, your VR games or activities may play with a PC that does not meet the recommended requirements. (I’m talking about tethered VR systems here)
However, this is one of the primary reasons that people will experience VR Sickness!
If you are attempting to play a VR game on a computer that does not have the minimum recommended requirements (including the amount of RAM or an up-to-par graphics card), you are going to experience latency issues, or lag. This is definitely going to lead to VR Sickness, as it throws your senses totally out of sync.
If you want the best VR experience with the least chance of having to endure VR Sickness, then follow the recommended hardware requirements!
Level of Experience Matters!
There are many situations in life where a gradual transition is ideal, or necessary, for safe and proper handling or function.
For example, when people learn to ride a bike, it is usually done by repeatedly trying to gain and maintain motion and balance simultaneously.
Often times, people will wobble while trying to find their balance, and may even fall a few times in the process. However, once you master the function, you retain the skill forever.
Hence the famous saying, “It’s like riding a bike.”
It’s quite possible to purchase your first VR headset, calibrate it, and start playing however you like, with no issue at all.
For a lot of people, though, it helps to approach this new endeavor with a little caution.
Remember, it is easier to take steps to prevent VR Sickness, than it is to recover from it should you end up one of the (un)lucky ones.
After time, as with your bike, you’ll probably be able to just ‘hop on and go.’
Until then, it makes good sense to follow this Transition Rule:
- Begin in a sitting position!
- Make deliberate controlled actions when you start playing.
- When you feel adjusted to the action and response, then stand and increase your motion.
Also, don’t expect to run a marathon your first time out for a jog!
Your body needs time to adapt to this new sensation. The first time you play, limit yourself to 5 – 15 minutes. Increase usage at time intervals dependent upon your body’s response.
4. Medication(s) and Natural Remedies
These Seem To Be The Most Common Go-To’s By VR Users
Sometimes in life, you get the gallon of sour milk even though you bought the jug with the latest expiration date.
If you’ve tried and followed the steps above with no avoidance or relief of VR Sickness, then you may need a little extra help.
Here are some suggested options, as voiced by users across the web who remain in the group of those who continue to suffer and are determined to enjoy VR without the nausea:
- Tried and true, Dramamine has been providing nausea relief to people for decades. Available in small, easy to swallow tablets, chewables for adults, chewables for kids, a natural ginger formula, and a 24 hr solution for all day relief, there is an option for everyone.
- Ginger has long been well known to calm an upset stomach. It’s been shown to be highly effective in alleviating nausea symptoms by way of several methods:
- Ginger ale
- root pills or supplements
- candied chews or gum
- essential oil
- Ginger has the ability to provide benefits through both prevention and remedial use.
- There is a pressure point known as P6, that is known to relieve nausea and headaches – the two most common symptoms of motion or VR Sickness.
- To find it:
- Place three fingers just below your wrist on your inner forearm
- Locate the spot below your index finger and in between the two tendons (this will be to the left side of your forearm)
- Use your thumb to massage that spot with gentle pressure for about 3 minutes
- Repeat on your other inner forearm
- For those living in areas where this controversial green plant is legal (and if you are of legal age to use it, of course), it may provide a natural solution to VR Sickness. Many have claimed to benefit from it when used prior to engaging in virtual reality to prevent nausea, which is, in fact, a researched and practiced use of medical marijuana.
- Cheapest acupressure wristband option
- Used to relieve nausea by simply applying pressure to the P6 pressure point.
- Available in adult or child size bands.
- Dual function – delivers pressure and pulse
An adjustable, digital wristband that delivers pressure and pulses to your P6 pressure point, signaling your brain to communicate to your stomach to “turn off” the feelings of nausea. It offers 5 levels of pulse. You decide how strong a pulse you need depending on how you are feeling. Can be used to prevent motion sickness, or for instant relief if you are already experiencing symptoms.
*** Medical Disclaimer:
THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING MEDICAL ADVICE. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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Have you suffered from virtual reality sickness while gaming in VR? Have you tried any of the tips above to remedy your nausea? Please share your experience below!
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