The Science of Cybersickness - Deepstash

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The Science of Cybersickness

The Science of Cybersickness

Cybersickness is caused by a mismatch in sensory input involving the:

  • visual system (what your eyes tell your brain)
  • vestibular system (what your inner ear senses regarding head movement and balance)
  • proprioceptive system (what sensory receptors throughout your body feel)

When you look at a screen, your eyes signal your brain that there’s a lot of movement. But your vestibular and proprioceptive systems tell your brain that all is steady.

It can make you lightheaded and sick to your stomach.

Cybersickness vs Motion Sickness

Cybersickness vs Motion Sickness

Cybersickness doesn’t involve actual movement, so technically they are two different things. But the result is the same.

With cybersickness, it’s not actual movement like on a boat that triggers it. It’s only the perception of movement that sets off the symptoms.

Like motion sickness, some people experience cybersickness at the tiniest provocation while others are unaffected.

Focusing on a steady object can help.



Motion sickness is that nauseated, disorienting feeling that happens on boats, in cars, and on rides. Like motion sickness, cybersickness occurs when your senses send conflicting signals to your brain.

It’s all about orientation. You need your senses to get a feel for where you are and how you’re moving about the world. When you’re senses report contradictory info to the brain, you experience disorientation and physical symptoms.

Symptoms of Cybersickness

Symptoms of Cybersickness

  • Nausea is an early sign. It may get worse or even escalate to vomiting.
  • Looking at a screen for long periods may cause dizziness. You may feel lightheaded or like the room is spinning. It’s difficult to concentrate.
  • Staring at screens all day can be a big strain on the eyes, causing dryness, irritation, and blurry vision.
  • You might develop neck and shoulder strain from sitting in the same position too long, leading to a headache.

Cybersickness Prevention

Cybersickness Prevention

Prevention is key. These tips may help:

  • Reduce screen time.
  • Rest your eyes; stretch and change positions.
  • Focus on a stable object other than the screen.
  • Avoid using multiple screens.
  • Pick audio over video.
  • Choose audio or printed books over eBooks.
  • Send handwritten notes instead of emails.
  • Slow down when you scroll.
  • Avoid bright, flashy displays.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before long periods of screen time.
  • Keep the room well-ventilated and odor-free.
  • Avoid screens when in a moving vehicle.

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