You may have heard of a sensory phenomenon known as ASMR, which has become increasingly popular over the past few years. Many people turn to ASMR audio and videos to help them sleep better.
ASMR means autonomous sensory meridian response. Sometimes, it's referred to as an "experience" or "phenomenon", and other times it's referred to as a condition. ASMR is a fairly new identified phenomenon that's been provided its name within just the past decade. It's a non-clinical term.
Individuals with ASMR experience relaxing and intensely pleasurable tingling that's concentrated in their neck and head, and occurs in response to certain images or sounds. Visual and auditory stimuli are the most common ASMR trigger responses, but some individuals experience this calm tingling in response to smell or touch as well.
As mentioned, these strongly, calming and relaxing sensations seem to be triggered by a broad range of sounds and sights. Some very common ASMR stimuli involve listening to and watching people perform ordinary, simple routines and tasks like:
The sound of water running is another strong ASMR trigger. Certain "crisp" sounds — like crinkling of plastic, or scratching of nails along hard surfaces — are also common ASMR stimuli.
However, the single most popular and common ASMR stimulus is whispering. Routines involving personal attention and care, like having hair trimmed and shampooed, are also thought to be common ASMR stimuli.
People describe ASMR as a tingling, feel-good sensation that starts in the scalp. The relaxing, calming feeling starts as a response to certain visuals or sounds (ASMR triggers). As the individuals continues to watch or listen, the tingling sensation begins to slowly spread through their body, from their head and shoulders down into their:
The primary ASMR sensation is one of euphoria or relaxation; not arousal. Since the trigger can be so seemingly quirky and unique to people who don't experience ASMR, there's often a misperception that ASMR is sexual or arousing. Only a very small percent of people who do experience ASMR find it sexually stimulating, though.
While there are numerous triggers of ASMR, let’s delve deeper into some common ones:
Scratching is an ASMR trigger, but can be slightly controversial. While it's popular, it can still rub certain individuals the wrong way. However, if you like the sound of a person scratching plastic, metal, or even their nails across a microphone, then you will most likely experience the calming, tingling sensation.
Gentle whispering is one of the most common ASMR triggers. It can lead to feelings of relaxation and calmness. One study found whispering slowly into a microphone could help with sleep problems.
Having anyone play with your hair is relaxing, even when it's not related to ASMR triggers. So, it only makes sense that listening to, and watching it, could provoke a similar response. There are a number of tools involved in hair play, from the bristles of hair brushes to fingers running through strands.
Among the five most popular triggers is repetitive sounds, according to another study. Page turning is definitely one that falls into this category. The crinkling, soft noises that magazines, newspapers, and books make can soothe anxiety symptoms, and leave you feeling very relaxed and calm.
Many ASMR videos use hand movements with other triggers like whispering. But, the gentle and soft movement alone can also help to relax you, and put you to sleep.
If you're experiencing sleeping difficulties, and you've tried everything else, simply having a person whisper in your ear may just be what you need. In fact, ASMR has helped many people fall asleep, which is why many people turn to YouTube to watch ASMR videos. ASMR also helps them manage mental health and stress.
ASMR is still fairly new in the world of science. A peer-reviewed research study on ASMR was published by Swansea University in Wales in 2015. In this study, 475 individuals who reported feeling the ASMR tingles were surveyed.
It was reported that 82% of these individuals would watch ASMR YouTube videos to help them sleep and 70% used ASMR for dealing with stress. Most of these people felt better after they watch the videos, even those scoring high on a survey for depression. Plus, the effects lasted for a while. Individuals suffering from chronic pain report watching the ASMR videos helped reduce their symptoms.
Since everybody experiences ASMR differently, researchers are still not clear as to why it occurs or if it could help treat conditions successfully like:
But, ASMR enthusiasts insist it's very relaxing, and helps them sleep.
While ASMR doesn't work for all people, if it does, you're in for a real treat. For most individuals who can and do experience ASMR, they experience the blissful tingling up in their scalp at first, and this tingling then makes its way through their body to their arms and legs. This results in a feeling of relaxation before they go to bed, helping them overcome insomnia.
While individuals use ASMR for relaxing, many use it for falling asleep specifically. Many studies have shown when individuals watch an ASMR video, it:
ASMR's positive effects might help sleep in a few ways:
More than half of individuals experiencing insomnia are living with chronic pain. It can be a challenge for the body to become relaxed enough to fall asleep, even with temporary pain. Research shows when individuals with pain watch ASMR videos, it provides them with pain relief that lasts for a few hours.
People with imbalanced moods also experience a sense of wellbeing after they watch ASMR videos. Similar to pain relief, the mood improvements can last hours afterward, even if they don't experience the tingling sensations.
These mood improvements seem to be more pronounced among people with moderate to severe depression. Those with mood disorders often score higher on a neuroticism personality trait, which could be linked with lower emotional stability and depression.
But, this mood-lifting effect seems to only occur among people capable of experiencing ASMR. The ASMR videos don't provide the same uplifting impact on people who don't engage in ASMR.
Trouble sleeping is a common depression symptom, but even daily stress could interfere with sleep. Stress can elevate your heart rate, making it more difficult to relax and fall asleep.
The good news is, watching an ASMR video can substantially lower the heart rate of individuals who experience ASMR. This decrease in heart rate might mimic the calm and relaxation that occurs naturally as you fall asleep, while also lowering your levels of stress.
Many individuals turn to ASMR podcasts and videos for health benefits to help them reduce anxiety, relax, and sleep better. The ability to promote good sleep and relaxation is a huge benefit, and there doesn't seem to be any noticeable side effects.
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