What is ASMR and How Does it Help You Sleep?

Woman with headphones sits relaxed near the ocean.

I have a confession to make. I really got into ASMR recently. You know, those weird videos with people whispering, brushing hair, or chewing gum. I know, I know, you think it’s some bizarre internet trend that will fade away like everything else that comes out of YouTube and TikTok. But listen, it has actually helped me so much now that the world has been thrown into chaos and most of our schedules have been significantly altered. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, even when following my own advice in incorporating yoga, meditation, and routine exercise into my daily schedule. I stumbled upon this whispering video on YouTube and suddenly my life was changed. Ok, I’m being a bit dramatic, but my sleep definitely improved significantly. Here’s the reason why you should at least try ASMR before completely dismissing it.

So, What Is It?

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Now you know why everyone just calls it ASMR. The phenomenon has always existed but recently was given a name. Before it was simply known as the “tingles,” since that is exactly what happens when an individual experiences ASMR. The ASMR University (it’s real, I swear!) puts the sensations into two different categories:

· Physical sensations (what you feel): light and pleasurable tingles, sparkles, fuzziness, or waves of relaxation in the head, neck, spine, and throughout the rest of the body.

· Psychological sensations (how you feel): deep and soothing feelings of relaxation, calmness, comfort, peacefulness, restfulness, or sleepiness.

There are some that even classify it as some kind of fetish, since no two individuals experience ASMR in exactly the same way, and those that experience these sensations don’t normally stick to one type of sound for long. Enthusiasts like to mix it up before they become too accustomed to the same video or sound technique. This encourages content creators to spice their videos up with different sounds that will trigger ASMR for their listeners.

Does Everyone Experience ASMR?

The short answer is no. Not everyone will react to these videos in the same way that ASMR aficionados will. It could be that the individual in question has yet to find their particular type of ASMR. For example, I first remembered a time in elementary school when kids would play “The Concentrate Game” at recess. If you never played it before: we memorized a rhyme, and it involved light touches of your partner’s fists on your back as they recited the rhyme. I remember reacting so strongly to the combination of touches and whispers of my friends. It was not any kind of erotic arousal, but just an immense, pleasurable and soothing sensation that I experienced. When I first started listening to ASMR videos, I was immediately reminded of these memories in elementary school. I do not however, respond well to the “food eating” ASMR videos. I find them a bit repulsive to be honest. Therefore, I suggest if you are interested in the subject but have yet to react to any of the whispering,

paper crumbling, or tea slurping videos, perhaps try a few different, less popular samples like listening to a hair drying for almost two hours (also not a lie).

How Is ASMR Related to Sleep?

This one is pretty easy if you have experienced a true ASMR reaction at least once. When you find the right sound, your body will start to relax and unwind as the “tingles” start to take over your brain. The interesting thing about the whole phenomena is that science has yet to explain what exactly is happening to our bodies when undergoing ASMR. There have been a few research projects on the matter without conclusive evidence, and right now we only have the vastness of the internet to help us with an explanation. The fact of the matter is that no one can really tell you why a woman typing on a keyboard leaves you with such a relaxed, euphoric feeling. Maybe your mom used to type at night when you were going to sleep, maybe typing is relaxing for you, maybe you hate typing, maybe you secretly want to marry a keyboard. The reality is that no one knows, but, hey, the reactions to ASMR videos speak for themselves. There are countless celebrities, comedians, and news outlets reporting on ASMR and making their own content. Here are some videos that might lead you down the rabbit hole:

1. ASMRSurge – relaxing kalimba tunes

2. ASMR Dream More – map drawing

3. ASMR Suna – brushing a pet pig

4. Gentle Whispering ASMR – whispering and role play

5. Zach Choi – eating food

These five videos offer a variety of ASMR sounds, and hopefully one will be right for you. I am particularly a fan of the whispering video and the content creator, Maria. I find her voice so soothing, and I almost instantly feel drowsy. Definitely give it a try; you might just have found your remedy for those sleepless nights. Let me know which video is your favorite and if you find any videos that work for you that I didn’t mention. I am always on the search for a new bedtime ASMR video. Until next time sleepyheads!

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