With smartphones now running our lives and the prospect of virtual reality games just around the corner, we are hearing more information on how these new technologies can be detrimental to our health.
Scrolling through pages quickly or playing a game that tricks the senses affects people in a number of different ways.
It might bring on a woozy or dizzy feeling that lasts only a matter of seconds or until you stop doing whatever it is that is making you unwell, to a nauseous feeling that in some cases lead to vomiting.
The explanation, according to scientists is that virtual reality/cybersickness is the reverse of motion sickness a horrible feeling that most of us have felt at one time or another brought on by either a journey or a ride at the amusement park.
Scrolling quickly on a smartphone, or being a part of a virtual reality game makes our visual senses think that we are doing something that we are not and with the inner ear not feeling the movement our eyes are seeing, the mixed signals being sent to our brains causes us to feel unwell.
Sadly, there is not a written rule as to how long this unpleasant feeling will last, with some people feeling better less than a minute after stopping what they were doing, to others feeling unwell for hours or even days.
Tips to help alleviate Cybersickness:
• Stop what you are doing and put your hands on a flat, stable surface while your senses regain their bearings.
• If you know that playing a virtual reality game make you feel nauseous, try eating or drinking something that contains ginger. Even in low doses of ginger found in cookies and ginger ale has been found to combat nausea.
• Breathing through your nose and exhaling through your mouth will help to calm you down and relax those tingly muscles in your mouth and neck that want to make you vomit.
• Make sure to never play a game on an empty stomach. Eating something a few hours before putting on a virtual reality headset will automatically calm your stomach and quell any feelings of nausea.
• Focus on a distant object in the room, or stare at the horizon until your senses get back in balance with what your eyes are seeing.
• As a last resort, you can always take an over the counter medicine such as Dramamine to help counter the effects of motion sickness. Remember though that medications affect people differently with Dramamine known to cause tiredness.
To sum up, how long virtual reality/cybersickness lasts we have to say there is no correct answer as it varies from one person to the next. One thing you can bet on however is that companies such as Facebook-owned Oculus, Samsung, Sony and HTC are doing all they can to improve the experience for users for what is poised to be a billion dollar industry.
Photos courtesy of Sarah G and David Pursehouse.