VR Sickness

5 Tips for VR Motion Sickness Relief

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.

woman with headache

 

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!

2.  Optimization

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!

3.  Transition

Level of Experience Matters!

balance on a bicycleThere 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:

Dramamine

  • 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

  • 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:
    • Tea
    • 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.

Acupressure

  • 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

Marijuana

  • 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.

5.  Wearables

Sea-Bands

  • Cheapest acupressure wristband option
  • Used to relieve nausea by simply applying pressure to the P6 pressure point.
  • Available in adult or child size bands.

 

Reliefband

  • 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.

 

Related articles:

What is the best Virtual Reality System?   Oculus VR and HTC are both releasing new headsets this year. How do you choose the right system?

Why Oculus VR is the Leader of Virtual Reality Gaming  Learn about the history of Oculus VR, and why Oculus remains the leader of the pack.

 

Join In!

We want to know …

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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20 comments

  1. Thanks for the tips. I’ve experienced motion sickness after playing a vr game and I had to sit down for a while before my orientation returned. And a friend of mine almost hit his head once after using vr. This is a serious issue and your tips should be advertised so as to prevent serious accidents from the use of the devices. Also, what is the best virtual reality system?

  2. Well I experienced this once but it went away after minutes. I didn’t know it was an actual sickness but with this post I just learnt a lot. 

    Most times I get into the game mode without preparing for it and sometimes I freak out at what I see inside. I guess the solution is actually preparing ahead. Maybe also checking out the game reviews to prepare myself for what I’ll see.

    Thanks for this post. Now I can help myself and others in this situation.

    1. Hi, and thank you for your comment!

      You brought up an EXCELLENT additional tip!

      It can be extremely helpful to watch game previews and recorded gameplay before jumping in to VR yourself. Then you know what degree of action / motion to expect and can make an educated guess as to if you can handle it or not. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  3. Wow! Lovely post, I love the simplicity at which you write. I’ve heard of motion sickness before, wouldn’t have known it’s the same as virtual reality sickness. My cousin had this issue before and it took more than 3 months before he got over it. I will bookmark this page for him to learn. Thanks for this educative write up.

    1. Hi!

      Thank you for your comment, and the kind words!

      I’m sorry to hear that your cousin had such an adverse response. Not quite the experience that one is looking for while playing. I sincerely hope that these tips can help him to enjoy VR as intended!

  4. Wow this is awesome! I have never heard about relief bands or sea bands before. These might just be what I’ve been looking for to help with the motion sickness I’ve felt when using my VR headset.

    Some of my friends get sick when playing Portal 2, do you recommend these bands for them even though it isn’t with a vr headset?

    I will also do more research on using Ginger. I had heard that it could be used for this, but I wasn’t sure initially. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Hi Jacob!

      Thank you for commenting here, and great question!

      In regards to the bands, I would give them a try! They aren’t specifically made for VR, or gaming at all, but have been making a difference for so many gamers that I felt it worthy to mention them here. They are meant to help with nausea, any way you get it! Please come back and leave another comment if you give them a try. We’d like to hear your experience!

  5. Well it’s true you learn new things every day. I actually have a friend that uses Marijuana for Virtual Reality Sickness and he told me that it cures it. I thought he was just giving me some story to have an excuse for using it,  but now I know better. Apparently other people use it too for the same reason. I’m going to share this article with him. He’ll like it. Thank you for the information.

    1. Hi Paschal!

      Thank you for your comment sharing this experience, and thank you for sharing our website! 

      Please visit again soon as we continue to expand our thoughts and knowledge in the world of VR!

  6. Wow, I’ve never heard of VR motion sickness! But then again I’ve only tried VR once. I experienced motion sickness once though when Avatar came out. I was blown away by the insanely vivid experience, everything popped out of the screen really far in the audience – way more than the newer 3D movies today. Although I had a great time, I got a massive headache and was really dizzy afterwards. I think many people reported migraines and motion sickness and ever since, it seems that the 3D movies have been dialed way back.

    1. Hi Vince!

      Thank you for commenting here!

      I can relate, actually! I get motion sickness myself, and use Dramamine prior to any 3D  or VR experience. The experience is always worth it though!

      VR has gotten much more affordable than it used to be. If you’re looking to expand your VR experience, I’d suggest reading this article:

      Oculus Rift vs Oculus Go

  7. Hi Cris,

    I have read your article on VR motion sickness, and Wow! Lovely post. Thanks for the tips. 

    I’ve experienced motion sickness after playing a VR game and I had to sit down for a while before my orientation returned. My cousin also had this issue before and it took him a long time before he got over it. I will bookmark this page for me and share with him to learn more. Thank you so much for the info.

  8. Cris, you have touched on a really important point. I’m not a VR user myself but have a couple in the family, and all of them have experienced the same thing at some point in time. This is a great post full of useful tips, I will definitely pass them along. Actually the whole industry around AR/VR headsets is suffering quite a lot, and it’s probably because the user experience is very often mitigated by that motion sickness issue. You are touching on a crucial point!

    Cheers,

    John

  9. Hi Cris

    My husband likes to play games. He has not played with VR yet, but he has had to stop playing before because he gets dizzy. Is this the same sickness? I will tell him about your tips to see if it will help him. Thank you for your information. 

    1. Hi Kari!

      If your husband is only experiencing the dizziness during game play, he could be suffering from motion sickness, or vertigo, as they relate to balance and the inner ear. Many games that are not in VR can cause this, especially newer games because of the advanced graphics. The symptoms of motion sickness and VR sickness are essentially the same, as are the remedies. However, if this is happening outside of gaming, he may want to see his doctor!

      Thanks for visiting our site, and thanks for sharing!

  10. I remember my first time using a VR headset – playing some zombie game my nephew had on for me! Let’s just say, It’s not the best game to play for a first-time user. I felt quite sick quite quickly to be honest with you and really put me off using it again.

    There are some great tips you’ve mentioned for this motion sickness from VR – and I’ll be sure to use them next time I play. Is there a certain time limit to using a VR headset? What I mean is when should you give yourself a break from using it?

    Thanks

    Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa!

      Thank you for sharing your experience here, and great question!

      To be honest, I have not seen on either Oculus’ or Vive’s website, or either’s User guides, OR either’s support pages, any reference to a time limit. (which surprises me!). All companies do have suggested use safety, such as age for example – they recommend users be 12 or 13+, but no reference to time usage!

      I can share what I’ve seen in other blogs and gaming forums:

      Start slow (5-10 min), and increase time increments the more you use it.

      Take periodic breaks if you plan to play an extended time. One regular VR player suggested a quick break every 30 minutes. (an advantage of the Vive headset – you can flip up as needed, then flip back down to continue, without having to take the headset off)

      And goes without saying, but I’ll say it…

      Everyone will have a different threshold, and you should go with what your body tells you! 

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