I always had the feeling that everybody knew, that when you're in a bus or some moving vehicle, reading from a screen (phone, etc.) made you sick, that while reading from something static (a book or a epaper-device) didn't make you feel sick.

However recently I read about who got sick from reading from a book. I did some research after that, and now it appears to me, that I'm the only human being on this earth who ever made that difference.

So is there a difference in getting motion sickness, reading from a screen as opposed to reading from a book?

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    Neither makes me sick, so whatever is going on, it's not universal. – phoog Jun 13 '16 at 13:44
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about travel. – JonathanReez Jun 13 '16 at 14:40
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    Both make me sick. I've never heard of there being a difference. – gerrit Jun 13 '16 at 14:48
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    Voting to Leave-Open as motion sickness generally occurs while travelling and thus on-topic. – mts Jun 13 '16 at 16:15
  • @mts Motion sickness generally occurs while moving from place to place. But that isn't necessarily "travel" within the scope of this site. For example, your commute to work isn't "travel". – David Richerby Jun 14 '16 at 7:34

I don't have the studies to back this up on my, but my understanding of motion sickness is:

  • You inner ear is telling you you are moving
  • But you are not walking
  • Your other senses also may be telling you are not walking.
  • Your body interprets this contradiction as a sign that something is wrong, determines you may be poisoned, and so has you vomit.

So it is the bolded point that is why looking out the window, makes it better. It decreases the contradiction. Where as reading or watching a movie on your iPod, does not help, you gain no more reference.

I can see the argument that looking at a movie would make it worse since the camera moves are out of sync even more with your inner ear. But I don't think it is that significant for most people. Very few people get motion sick in movies (though it does happen, it is more common in imax dome cinemas, for example)

Of course there are other reasons people get sick while in motion:

  • constant motion, eg why people get sick on fair rides, and on ships worse
  • Unrelationed illness blamed on motion sickness. Eg Food poisoning from bad roadhouse food.
  • So someone needs to create a movie player combined with motion detector that moves the movie image to match exactly the movement of the bus or car. – gnasher729 Jun 13 '16 at 21:05

There is no universal condition for motion sickness, each and every one of us reacts differently. Some folks can read in a car, some can not, some folks get sea sick, some don't, some get air sick, some don't.

While some events result in a high percentage of people being effected such as really rough seas, even there a portion of the people will be ok.

You pretty much have to discover how your body reacts the hard way ... try it and hope you don't puke.

But in regard to ebook versus paper book, likely the difference would be due to the screen flicker. While you don't notice it, your brain does 'see' it. Folks who are bothered by ereaders may also feel uneasy in nightclubs with strobe lights.

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    By ebooks, I assume you mean on a screen such as a phone. e-readers with "electronic ink" are essentially electronic etch-and-sketch. – Yousend Jun 13 '16 at 15:09
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    Yes I am refering to reading something on a phone or tablet. – user13044 Jun 13 '16 at 15:20

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