TBC Explainer: Find out what ASMR is this World Sleep Day

Here's an insight into what ASMR is and how it can help you doze off.
What is ASMR and how does it help you sleep?
What is ASMR and how does it help you sleep?Image: The Bridge Chronicle

ASMR is a rising internet sensation. Garnering more than 20 million views on a single video, Gibi ASMR, a YouTube ASMRtist with 2.8 million subscribers is only one of the many creators out there!

Odds, however, are that you’ve never heard of it, or you still don’t really know what AMSR is. According to Google Think, the top searched question about ASMR is, “What is ASMR?”.

We bring you a quick insight into this puzzling obsession that you may have never heard of.

What is ASMR?

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is the pleasurable tingling sensation that some people experience in response to stimulating videos, sounds or activities. Recent research suggests it lowers heart rate, improves overall health and induces sleep as well.

The researchers from University of Sheffield, in a first-of-its-kind study (2018), found the physiological underpinnings of ASMR. They found ASMR to be a sensation experienced by some people in response to certain stimulating sounds or visuals - described as a warm, tingling and pleasant feeling -starting at the crown of the head and spreading down the body. These “tingles” as remarked by the researchers, are “typically accompanied by feelings of calm and relaxation.”

What do ASMR tingles feel like?
What do ASMR tingles feel like?Image: The Bridge Chronicle

“It’s not too dissimilar, for instance, to music chills,” says Dr Thomas Hostler, psychology lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. “When you hear a piece of really epic music or a really awe-inspiring speech, you might get these kinds of shivers.”

ASMR taking over the internet

There are more than 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube alone and the number continues to climb, all ranging from 5-minute clips to videos that last for more than two hours. Along with YouTube, ASMR has made its way into Spotify podcasts, such as The ASMR Podcast by Vizzion and even specifically designed smartphone applications, such as TeasEar or Tingles.

Celebrities like Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne and Cardi B have even created some of their own relaxing videos. But why this craze for ASMR?

What’s the science behind ASMR?

Being coined as 'ASMR' only in 2010, there isn’t much to know as the science goes. Most of the information is anecdotal and not everyone experiences it.

Despite the lack of sufficient scientific data, one of the most consistent finding - individuals experiencing ASMR show significant reductions in their heart rates. Moreover, the individuals also show an increase in positive emotions, including relaxation and social connection.

How does ASMR affect us?
How does ASMR affect us?Image: The Bridge Chronicle

One of the researchers of the 2018 study, Dr. Poerio noted “…the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants was comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness.”

Another older research done in 2016, by the University of Connecticut, also found that ASMR has effects similar to mindfulness techniques, along with the scope to promote happiness.

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How can ASMR help sleep?

While people use ASMR to relax, most people use it specifically to unwind and fall asleep.

Researchers at the University of Diponegoro, Indonesia conducted a study on how ASMR affects the quality of sleep. They found ASMR stimulation to improve sleep quality exponentially in several ways:

· Relieves pain

· Improves mood

· Lowers stress

· Lowers heart rate

All the above factors mimic the natural relaxation that occurs in the body while falling asleep.

Aster Justine Haile, content creator for Relax Melodies remarks, “With millions of testimonies online, the proof is in the fact that people keep coming back to ASMR as an effective tool for relaxation and better sleep.”

“Watching a calming video can help hold your attention and pull your thoughts away from those niggling everyday tensions,” says Dr Hostler, MD Neurologist in Florida.

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Find your ASMR tingle trigger

Star Wars ASMRtist Sophie recommends beginners to “find your own preferred videos.” She goes on to say that “sometimes the most popular videos won’t give you the ASMR effect but videos with just 100 views will.”

Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most popular sleep ASMR videos YouTube has to offer!

A variety of ASMR videos from role-playing, makeup, cosplays and original characters as well. With such a wide range of videos, it is no surprise that she’s got over 2.8 million subscribers, making her one of the foremost ASMRtists out there.

Having recently achieved one million subscribers, ASMR Glow is becoming a soft-spoken force to be reckoned with. More than one of the best ASMRtist, she’s also an experienced makeup specialist and vlogger.

A deep library of calm inducing videos that range from bizarre to completely banal (in a good way). This one in particular made the list as it is a guided sound bath meditation for anxiety using Tibetan singing bowls and a spoken meditation.

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Reiki is an energy therapy meant to decrease stress and increase relaxation, why not try it remotely? The Lune INNATE’s channel is mainly focusses on energy, holistic practices and personal power. If you are looking to go spiritually deep, this is the video and channel for you.

Despite not having as many subscribers as the others featured on this list, this ASMRtist itsblitzzz’s video for Sleep has more than 2.5 Million views!

Her trademark: revealing only part of her face and she lets the triggers do all the talking. Tapping, crinkling, scratching or brushing, it will induce waves of euphoria and help you fall asleep. Also, check out her mega-popular three-hour video with more than 100 triggers to find out yours!

Delve into this fascinating internet phenomenon and who knows, you may find your ASMR tingle trigger and doze right off!

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