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Why Does Reading in the Car Cause Nausea?

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why does reading in a car cause nausea

Long road trips can be pretty dull unless you have something to keep you occupied. While some people and families plan out games to play along the way, others prefer to take advantage of the quiet time by reading. But, as many who have tried to read in the car (never while driving, obviously) can attest, doing so can make you feel nauseated. What is it about reading in the car that causes this?

Here comes the science part…

In order to understand why you get nauseated when reading in the car, it’s important to understand how motion sickness works. Motion sickness occurs when your inner ear disagrees with what you are seeing. As you read in the car, your eyes focus on the words in front of you, and your peripheral vision sees the inside of the car. Both of these things are static, so your eyes think you are still. But your inner ear senses the movement of the car as it goes over bumps and around corners. The two disagreeing is what causes the nausea you might experience while reading in the car.

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But not everyone suffers nausea in this situation. According to the Huffington Post, one-third of the population is more susceptible to motion sickness than the other two-thirds, while women typically experience it more frequently than men. The scientific community hasn’t figured out why this might be, primarily because of a lack of studies in this area.

What to do about motion sickness

The best thing you can do to combat motion sickness while reading is to stop reading and look out of the window for a while to get your bearings. It might sound like a no-brainer, but it can be hard to put down a good book, even if it’s causing you pain.

If you suffer from motion sickness, consider some alternatives to reading while riding in a car. Audiobooks offer the same escapism as physical books but won’t cause nausea. Alternatively, you could listen to your favorite podcast (or discover a brand-new favorite) or put on some music to pass the time.

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Sources: Science Focus, Scientific American, Huffington Post