Do you often feel unwell when you have spent (a lot of) time in front of your computer? Then it could just be that you suffer from cybersickness… In this article we explain what it is exactly and how you could prevent it!
There is a good chance that you spend a lot of time behind a screen, especially with working from home now. That can cause a lot of complaints (think of tired eyes and back and neck complaints), but some people even literally get sick from it. Prolonged exposure to a screen can cause cybersickness. It is a phenomenon linked to motion sickness and which can lead to nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and migraines. Some are more affected than others, but in a digital age like this almost everyone has these complaints to some degree.
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Cybersickness occurs when your brain receives messages that you are moving (for example, due to a flickering screen) when you are actually standing/sitting. This is also known as a visual vestibular conflict. Another good example of this is that you can get sick if you try to read in a moving vehicle. Your eyes focus on a stationary object while the rest of your body experiences movement. This conflict can cause complaints, which also happens when your eyes register a moving image and your body is stationary/sitting. Even an hour or two of screen use can cause this and your symptoms can last from a few minutes to a few.
The blue light from your screen could also contribute to this:it can be experienced as eye strain, which can lead to nausea and dizziness. People who have more frequent migraines, are carsick or have ever had a concussion are more prone to getting cybersickness.
A logical solution would be to avoid screens as much as possible, but we understand that that will probably be difficult. That's why we have three other tips for you that can help you prevent cybersickness:
1. Let your brain and body reorient itself often † Stand and walk more often to remind your body where you are, for example every 30 minutes. This way you can avoid sensory conflict. You can also choose to work on a sitting ball, so that you keep moving more.
2. Prevent eye strain † If you hold a weight for 10 minutes, you can imagine that your arm muscles will become sour. That's how you should see it with constantly looking at a screen; you are constantly straining your eye muscles. You also blink 50% less when you look at a screen, which makes your eyes drier. So try the 20-20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, take a break from your screen and look 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds, then close your eyes for 20 seconds.
3. Expose yourself less to blue light † Many devices have a blue light filter, so check your phone and computer settings to see if you can reduce this. You could also buy glasses with blue light lenses to protect your eyes.