Tingles, Relaxation & Sleep
ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a physical sensation which usually begins in the crown of the head and often works its way down the spine and limbs. The feeling is often described as tingles and can occur when hearing certain sounds, a soft voice, watching someone else carefully perform a task or receiving personal attention.
The ASMR sensation is incredibly relaxing and the videos made on Youtube are to trigger that feeling. However since they began in 2009 their popularity has grown very quickly and a huge worldwide community alongside. Viewers describe how watching ASMR videos specifically have helped them to overcome insomnia, anxiety, PTSD and times of depression. As well as using them for general relaxation, pain management, focus meditation during childbirth, a means of falling asleep quickly and background sounds during the night or during study. Viewers find the content creator’s videos to be nurturing and comforting too. We’re also seeing more and more testimonies from parents with Autistic children who use the videos for sensory stimulation and those who simply like to enjoy cuddle time with their little ones whilst watching.
Did you ever ask your siblings or friends to draw letters on your back or draw on your arms as a child? Absolutely love story time at school? Like having your hair played with? REALLY enjoy haircuts, eye tests, having your feet measured? Love drifting off to the sound of other school pupils putting their pencils away? Listening to someone in a waiting room flipping the pages of a magazine? Did any of these things make you feel what you thought were shivers down your back or a sparkly feeling in your head? Did they make you feel quite dreamy and sleepy? If so then you are ASMR sensitive.
What are triggers?
An ASMR ‘trigger’ is whatever stimulates the sensation. Triggers for the ASMR sensation are vast and varied, each person has their own which are most effective. Some of these are:
Sounds – Tapping, crinkling, page turning, pen sounds, soft speaking, whispering, fabric sounds, cutting sounds
Actions – Watching someone carefully perform a task, explain about an object or task in detail, watching someone having their hair played with or brushed, hand movements
Nurturing Touch -Back and arm stroking/tickling, hair play, whispering in the ear
Personal Attention – Eye tests, haircuts, massage, facials and someone pretending to do those to you though a video
Is it a Sexual thing?
No. The ASMR sensation feels quite the opposite of arousing. It is more like taking a sleeping pill. It makes us feel sleepy, relaxed and totally present in the moment. The words ‘Braingasm’ & ‘Whisper Porn’ are used quite a lot in the media. They are not an accurate description and are quite misleading.
There have also been people working in other genres hijacking the ASMR tag due to it’s popularity, not everything labeled ASMR actually is. However the most popular ASMR YouTube channels are those that aim to represent it’s true meaning.
Upon first glance of some of the types of videos, the slow movements, close proximity to the camera, the soft voice. Some people assume quickly that all of this is to sexually arouse the viewer. After all we are bombarded with sultry images each day in our media. However everything that happens in the video is to induce ASMR. Those that begin to feel relaxed and enjoy the sounds realise that very soon after settling down to their first videos. Others are not sensitive to it and can’t understand. That’s fine too. Some people are just more sensitive to sound and touch than others.
Research into ASMR and it’s many aspects is taking place at various institutions all over the world and as interest in the subject grows it is only a matter of time before we understand fully the physiology. How it occurs in our bodies and why.
So far there have been two scientific studies successfully published, both by researchers based in the UK. The first from Swansea University was published on PeerJ March 26th 2015 entitled ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – A flow like mental state’ which concluded ‘We have provided the first investigation into the phenomenon of autonomic sensory meridian response (ASMR). ASMR can be induced, in those who are susceptible, by a fairly consistent set of triggers. Given the reported benefits of ASMR in improving mood and pain symptoms, we suggest that ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure similar to that of meditation and mindfulness’
The second most recent and more thorough scientific study published in June 2018 shows that during the experience of ASMR the heart rate lowers considerably (In fact similarly to other Meditation practises) and skin conductivity increases. This research was conducted by Dr. Giulia Poerio of the University of Sheffield’s Psychology department and Tom Hostler, lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/asmr-health-psychological-benefits-1.787541
Are you qualified to do this?
Generally speaking, ASMR content creators are essentially self taught YouTubers who have experienced this feeling all of their lives just like the viewers. Those that have been creating content for many years have literally been developing these techniques since they started. Working with the early childhood memories of triggers, adapting these for a video setting, trying out new ideas, developing those seen done by fellow content creators, viewer suggestions and feedback. Personally it’s been an interesting journey with trials, errors and successes to develop the skills I have now and there is still a way to go with more ideas to explore. Not just in video format but live and in person sessions.
There are no courses or qualifications for ASMR. Content creators make videos with the intention to relax the viewer and we receive feedback on how people have used or enjoyed them.
In 2016 I became a qualified Sound Therapy practitioner through The Collage of Sound Healing in England. Then later a practitioner in Crystal and Himalayan Bowl treatments as well as Assemblage Point adjustment and Reiki. I wanted to understand better the effects of sound on the body and how I was possibly helping my viewers. These courses gave me a much deeper understanding of what I do on YouTube and the experience to go on and take ASMR back into the world where it started for me. I strongly believe the social aspect of nurturing one another should not be lost especially as we grow older. The internet should be a means for further connection, not stop us from experiencing it fully in person. It should be a tool and not a substitute.
A Brief History
So many people have experienced the ASMR sensation as long as they can remember and for a long time many searched for visual aids on TV and YouTube. Shopping Channels, Antiques Roadshow and Children’s art shows to name a few have in the past been regularly frequented by people looking for instant triggers for their ASMR. However Bob Ross and his show ‘The Joy of Painting’ is considered by many to be the Godfather of ASMR!
On March 26th 2009 there appeared a video on YouTube titled ‘Whisper 1 – Hello!’ the description said
I know this might sound really weird to some but I love hearing people whisper! So I thought I would make a whispering channel.
Then begins the whispering voice of an English girl named WhisperingLife and with it the very first Whisper video. Since this time the feeling brought on by the whispering has been given its name as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and Whisperers have been named ASMRtists. Other terms are Sleep Whisperer, Whisper Therapist or just ASMR Content Creator. By now there are so many more content creators, very likely in the hundreds. There is a style, sound and personality for everyone.
An ASMRtist is someone who works to create the ASMR tingles in another. This is mostly in the form of a YouTube video where the artist will use sounds, soft speaking, whispering, guided visualisation and recreation of real life appointments (usually called Role Play), to induce tingles in the viewer. It can also be induced in person.
Since most people have experienced the tingly feeling in day to day life situations way before experiencing it through a video, sometimes the response can be even stronger in person.
The ASMR community has grown online by the hundreds of thousands over the years so far worldwide and shows no sign of slowing down. As the culture of self awareness, mindfulness and complimentary therapies grow, ASMR is becoming very useful for so many. ASMR content on YouTube is becoming a genre all of its own and strong bonds are being formed between people all over the world. Watch this space for there will undoubtably be much more to come!