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Troubles Relaxing or Sleeping? How ASMR May be Able to Help

What Is ASMR?

Does the sound of someone smoothly brushing their hair, rubbing against their canvas with a paintbrush, or lightly tapping give you a tingling and relaxation sensation? If yes, you’re not alone. This is a known relaxation phenomenon called autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). While it might sound odd, millions of people around the world search the internet for video and sound clips

In simple terms, ASMR is an extremely enjoyable and relaxing feeling that happens in response to a specific sound or visual. This pleasant tingly sensation typically begins on the scalp, travels down the spine, and may move to the back, legs, and/or arms. Those that experience this sensation often refer to it as “a brain orgasm." However, the pleasant sensation is non-sexual.

What is ASMR Used For?

While there is limited scientific evidence on the health benefits of ASMR, there are numerous ASMR online forums and groups devoted to this relaxation phenomenon and various claims around the potential health benefits have been made.

Encourages Relaxation

There are various factors including stress, anxiety, and/or illness that can make it difficult to relax, resulting in a build up of muscle tension. These factors can also contribute to the development of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure. ASMR can be a valuable tool for relaxation as it is quick, and can be done anywhere because it only involves watching an ASMR video online.

Manages Anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental illness. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that up to 40 million Americans over the age of 18 struggle with this mental health condition. Unfortunately, the management of anxiety often involves the use of anti-anxiety medications, which come with many undesirable side effects. This is where the ASMR relaxation technique comes into play. This technique has the potential to help manage anxiety with no known side effects.

Treat Insomnia

Insomnia is a major problem throughout the world with estimates revealing that approximately 35 percent of the population suffers with some type of insomnia, with about 10 percent suffering from chronic insomnia. ASMR sleep-aiding procedures range from touching the head and face steadily, listening to ASMR sleep audios, and watching sleep-promoting ASMR videos to help promote restful sleep.

Gain a Better Understanding of Your Body

ASMR meditation allows you to experience the tingling sensation while trying to understand the varying effects this relaxation technique has on your body. It may also help you identify things that cause ASMR brain sensations, why you experience them, and ways you can use them to improve other aspects of your life.

Common ASMR Triggers

Whispering

Whispering, or speaking softly, is undoubtedly the most popular ASMR trigger and is included in most ASMR videos. Some ASMR creators use repeating words and sounds in their videos due to their relaxing effect.

Tapping

Tapping involves using long fingernails or fingertips to tap surfaces. ASMR creators may tap on a variety of surfaces to produce different relaxing sounds.

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Page Turning

Page turning refers to the sound made when someone flips through a book, which can be a relaxing sound for some individuals. Some ASMR creates focus their videos on the hand movements used when turning pages.

Light

Light videos focus on visual stimulation. Often, they feature an individual flapping a flashlight while facing the camera.

Physical Touch

Touch videos focus on physical touch to promote ASMR sensations. The physical touch in the video may include things such as touching the face, rubbing the arm, or playing with hair.

Concentration

Concentration videos focus on individuals performing a specific task, which may include painting a landscape, or making a sculpture.

Food Prep

Food prep videos focus on watching and listening to an individual preparing food. Simple preparation tasks such as the sound of butter being spread over the toast or veggies being sliced can be relaxing for some people.

Is ASMR Good or Bad for You?

Researchers are currently studying the cause of ASMR and its potential health benefits. So far, this phenomenon is relatively new and not completely understood. However, a recent study by researchers from the UK-based University of Sheffield discovered that participants’ heart rates dropped significantly while watching ASMR videos compared to those who didn’t watch these videos, which supports that there is a relaxation response.

Based on these results, the study concluded that ASMR might have both physical and mental health benefits. Of course, there is a need for more research around this technique to determine both the short and long term effects on those who use it.

Finding ASMR Content

The internet has a wide array of ASMR videos, audiobooks, and podcasts for those who want to try this relaxation technique. As an example, YouTube has over 15 million ASMR videos, ranging from whispering and scratching sounds to concentration videos and role-playing situations such as haircuts.

If you’re looking for ASMR content, consider subscribing to channels of some of the popular ASMR creators on YouTube, including Maria of GentleWhispering, Ilse of TheWaterWhispers, and Taylor of ASMR Darling.

Spotify is another important resource that will give you access to a variety of ASMR content.

Final Notes

ASMR is a relatively new relaxation technique, and not much is known about it. While you may experience pleasurable sensations from ASMR techniques, you may not experience anything at all as everyone responds to stimuli differently.

Getting started with this relaxation phenomenon can take a bit of trial and error to identify the ASMR triggers that work for you. Not to worry though, there is an abundance of content available online for you to experiment with.

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