Reading While Commuting

How to Avoid Motion Sickness While Reading On the Go

By: Sabrina Medora

Do you face a long daily commute? Wish you could read without feeling nauseated or dizzy while on a moving vehicle? It’s not impossible! Try following these seven easy steps for a better reading experience while commuting:

  1. Be prepared: If you wear reading glasses, don’t get lazy and forget about them while reading in the train, bus or car. If you’re going to be in a vehicle with poor lighting (underground subway, reading in the car at night), bring along a clip-on light. They’re lightweight and fit on most book or e-reader covers. These small precautions prevent unnecessary strain on the eyes, minimizing headaches.
  2. Know yourself: The difference between reading off paper and reading off a back-lit screen can be significant when traveling. Determine whether you are comfortable with reading from a laptop or e-reader. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel well while reading something from a screen, try a book instead! There are also certain e-readers that are not backlit, such as the Kobo or the Kindle.
  3. To each her own: It is important to determine what kind of reader you are—an eye-leveler or a lap-propper. The eye-leveler holds the book or device at eye-level, avoiding the strain that might occur from looking down. Looking down while moving at a fast pace could bring on nausea or dizziness. The lap-propper props the book up on their lap, thereby not looking down directly, avoiding the feelings of motion sickness.
  4. Comfort zones: Always ensure that your seat is facing the same direction in which you are traveling. Reading while moving backwards or sideways is distracting for your mind and can be uncomfortable for the body. This is particularly applicable for train or plane rides.
  5. Food for thought: Travelling on an empty stomach can be uncomfortable. When trying to concentrate in such situations, feelings of nausea and discomfort may be heightened. To avoid this, stay well hydrated and have something to munch on like trail mix or granola bars. Try skipping your morning coffee while on your commute as coffee has a tendency to dehydrate and stick to water until you’ve reached your destination. Avoid indulging in heavy meals as the feeling of being too full may cause a stomachache .
  6. Focus: It’s important to focus on the text and not on the environment. Try to ignore the objects whizzing by in your peripheral vision. Even moving your eyes between looking out the window and back at your book will bring on discomforts like headaches or stomachaches. Allow your mind to focus solely on what you are reading. To help it along, try to read something engaging. If you read something that you are not 100% interested in, chances of distraction—and sickness—are higher.
  7. Give me a break: Always take short breaks from reading, especially on a long journey. Take a moment to relax your eyes by closing them. Clear your mind. Breathing deeply through your nose also helps your body release tension that may add to unpleasant motion sickness. For every 15 minutes of reading, take a minute or two to unwind. If you feel a headache or other motion sickness symptoms coming on before that, take breaks more frequently.
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