Search the internet for any article about sleep or stress management. Chances are, you will come across the acronym ASMR. It is quite a buzzword on the internet today. Youtubers are earning fat bucks by churning out ASMR videos, bloggers are going on about it, even medical experts recommend daily doses of it. Has it caught your fancy already? Let’s explore what all the buzz is about.
The ‘theasmr‘ website describes it as such- ASMR refers to the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and it is a physical tingling sensation that begins in your scalp and moves down through the spine to the limbs. It is often triggered by an audible stimuli, such as whispering or scratching, though it can also be triggered through physical touch. Imagine the tingly sensation you feel when someone whispers soothing words in your ears or when soft music wafts through the air. That is ASMR, a term coined by one Jennifer Allen. It can be agreed that such sensations existed before we had a term for them. Be warned though, ASMR triggers differ from people to people. ‘The sensation is is described by some of those susceptible to it as “akin to a mild electrical current…or the carbonated bubbles in a glass of champagne”. One stimuli that triggers it in one person may not work for another and vice-versa. Some may not experience it at all, no matter the trigger!
One can understand that it is difficult for people to comprehend what ASMR feels like when they are not experiencing it first hand. But know that it is a spontaneous feeling. Here, I am listing some common stimuli that trigger ASMR- soft sounds and whispers about non-stressful topics, tapping sounds- even those produced by fingernails on a surface, watching someone carry out a mundane task in silence (that task can be washing dishes or writing something), repetitive sounds such as those made by turning the pages of a book, personal attention such as a doctor examining you or someone touching your hair or even talking to you for a long stretch of time, watching someone concentrate on a task like painting, hand movements and so on. All these create a relaxed sensation in our minds and bodies which helps us to lighten our moods and de-stress. This achievement of relaxation is its biggest advantage. Because when we are relaxed, a lot of life’s puzzles fall into place and we can take our challenges heads on. This explains the millions of views a simple ASMR video gets.
Research on ASMR has been very limited, there is no solid proof to show what causes it. It is only believed that it is caused by the release of endorphins. Even though science does not explain clearly what ASMR is, numerous scientific studies have found that people who experience the phenomenon very frequently have the highest levels of calmness and excitement on one hand and lowest levels of sadness and stress on the other. They also have reduced heart rates. That is why experts recommend incorporating ASMR routines in the lives of those who have trouble sleeping or experience severe stress. Researchers are however steadily picking the topic to probe it further.
The buzz is not dying soon. Its popularity is only going up and for good reason. So, the next time you have trouble sleeping or finding it difficult to relax, you might try out some ASMR techniques that work for you. Why not start with an YouTube video?