ASMR has taken the internet by storm and there’s still so much we just don’t know about it. Here’s the thing — as weird as it is to listen to a woman with bubblegum pink hair brush her camera lens with makeup brushes or whisper into a microphone, it may actually help you get a better night’s sleep or help you find a deeper sense of relaxation.
ASMR or “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” is one of the newest trending forms of ‘self-care’ you can partake in from the privacy of your own home. While unfamiliar and …. slightly uncomfortable for newbies…. it may help transform the way you relax and help you decompress after a long day. So what is ASMR? Essentially ASMR is a term to describe, “the experience of tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements” as explained by Emma Blakey, Thomas Hostler, and Theresa Veltri in their scholarly article More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology.
ASMR has grown in popularity as people rave about its ability to aid sleep and the stress relief properties associated with it. Blakey, Hostler, and Veltri go on to state, “Imagine that you are in a quiet library. Two people behind you start whispering, others are gently typing on keyboards, and someone starts quietly eating an apple. You look up and watch someone delicately turn the pages of a book, carefully scratching some notes with a newly sharpened pencil. For many, these might be frustrating and irritating distractions in a supposedly quiet environment. But for others, these sights and sounds would trigger a feeling known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)—a warm, tingling, and pleasant sensation starting at the crown of the head and spreading down the body. The subjective experience of ASMR ‘tingles’ (sometimes anecdotally referred to as ‘brain tingles’ or ‘brain orgasms’, ) is often accompanied by feelings of calm and relaxation.”
Everyone’s response and ‘tingling sensation’ is a bit different. From our research, it looks like popular ASMR triggers include: quiet whispering, the sound of people eating food or drinking, listening to someone complete a mundane task and the sounds associated with it like the pages of a book turning or the crinkle of paper, gentle tapping, scratching, and brushing sounds, receiving close personal attention, listening to a person describe how to do something, watching mundane tasks and listening to the quiet noises that come with it. Different things work for different people.
W Magazine actually created a series where your favorite celebrities from around the world tried their hand at creating ASMR vides. Whether you find joy in listening to Emily Ratakowski squishing her purse or like hearing the clinking of tools, there may be something out there for you that works.
This whole cult-following of ASMR can seem really freaky to those of us that are unfamiliar with it. We started trying to think of it like this : Sometimes at night, it can be difficult to fall asleep. Having a soothing sound or voice in the background can be a giant help. Many of us have a favorite TV show we put on before bed or a certain voice that we find particularly soothing. A popular person that evokes an ASMR response is Bob Ross. For many, our favorite pain instructor stimulates an ASMR response that brings a sense of calm as they watch his gentle instruction and listen to his quiet encouragement. It’s hard not to feel at ease watching him paint and listening to him say phrases such as: “We don’t laugh because we feel good, we feel good because we laugh”,“There are no mistakes, just happy accidents”, and “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend”. Try it for yourself and see if you find relaxation painting mountain scenes with Bob Ross while he talks about his pet squirrel and how “there’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us.”
There are all sorts of interesting ASMR triggers out there that work for viewers. It’s really quite intriguing seeing what works for some people and what works for others. Some people are sensitive to gentle tapping sounds while others may be more sensitive to role play scenarios. We won’t deny that the world of ASMR can be downright strange at times. We’ve seen videos focused on the crunching sound of chicken wings as you watch a girl eat them, a live octopus eating ASMR video, bacon sizzling in a cast iron skillet, crunching and chewing sounds as a girl eats a variety of Taco Bell menu items, or licking sounds. We’re not saying you’re going to enjoy watching a woman shuck oysters and whisper while she does it, but it is pretty interesting seeing the wacky things people actually connect to. It’s experimental and new — you may not find yourself falling into hypnosis or experiencing a trance like state, but it may be interesting at the very least.
Totally freaked out? Maybe you’ll find an ASMR response watching a man restore an antique item or building an engine. The quiet clinking of metal or the scratching of a wire brush against rust might be more up your alley. Perhaps you’ll be intrigued watching a leathersmith craft and sew together a new wallet.
The New Yorker Interviewed Craig Richard, a professor of biopharmaceutical sciences at Shenandoah University in their piece “The Brain-Tingling Sounds of ASMR”. He stated that ASMR is “similar to the deep relaxation someone might feel if they’re getting a massage…No one’s been able to unravel the biochemistry or the exact physiological experience that people are having.” Thousands of people report that ASMR has helped transform their stress relief response and aid anxiety and insomnia. Though you can achieve this sense of relaxation through meditation or through thinking of a sound or experience, sometimes it’s easier when you’re physically watching an activity or listening to a sound. Youtubers like ASMR KittyKlaw, ASMR Magic, ASMR Darling, Gibi ASMR, and Gentle Whispering ASMR for example have all made their names through their ability to bring about an ASMR response and help their viewers decompress.
Though it can be tough to envision, once you experience ASMR you can expect a tingling to begin on top of your head at your scalp and begin to extend to your arms and legs. Your body will experience a mild form of euphoria and a sensation of calm. For this reason, ASMR responses are thought to bring relief to those struggling with anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Blakey, Hostler, and Veltri report, “It is notable that the reductions in heart rate observed here (-3.41 bpm) are comparable to those observed in clinical trials using music-based stress reduction in cardiovascular disease (see ), and greater than those observed in a mindfulness/ acceptance based intervention for anxiety , suggesting that the cardiac effects of ASMR may have practical significance.”
If you don’t believe that this is really a ‘thing’, we hate to break it to you. It is. Videos like ASMR Magic’s that we shared clock over 35 million views with over 240,000 likes. If you’re still questioning people’s feelings, read through some of the 17,000 comments on the video. People are in love with this new trend.
Take a look around and see if you get the tingling sensation that everyone is raving about! Let us know your thoughts and experiences with ASMR — we’re interested in hearing your experiences.