What is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)?

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: August 2, 2020
What is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)?

Have you ever felt tingles when you hear a particular sound? Have you ever entered into a state of deep relaxation while getting a hair cut? Have you ever experienced a trance when someone talks in a very gentle voice? If so, then you know what ASMR feels like. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which has become increasingly popular of late, especially online. One reason is that it seems to be extremely helpful in falling asleep, relieving stress and feeling rejuvenated. In simple words, ASMR can be presented as a variety of sensations that soothe your mind, such as tingles, calmness, dizziness and relaxation. It is often achieved by a variety of gentle triggers, such as whispers, soft talking, light touches, soothing sounds and others. OneHOWTO will tell you all about what is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response? to see if it might benefit you.

What is ASMR?

ASMR can be felt, but it is a little tricky to describe. In simple words, it is a kind of tingle that you feel in your brain. It is like a pleasurable headache creeping down your spine. Not everyone feels ASMR, but there are certain external triggers that can set them off. It’s nothing sexual, but some equate in a similar way to a sexual turn-on. Different people may have different triggers that can set them off.

A few examples of ASMR could include a painter painting on a canvas, an artist assembling a model, a boy tapping on the school register, someone whispering in a church, etc. Simply put, ASMR is a comforting, deeply relaxing feeling that is usually accompanied by tingling in the head. Usually, the tingle starts from the back of the neck, travels through the scalp and then moves down through the spinal cord. Some also feel it in their limbs, back and shoulders. There may be endless triggers and each person will have his or her own.

ASMR is a subjective experience which is linked to different factors. Two people may be given the same triggers and can experience different reactions ranging from nothing to the tingles we have described above. For this reason, there is not a lot of scientific study on the subject and what there is is inconclusive. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it does mean it can be difficult to define and may differ from person to person. The benefits are mainly anecdotal, but the experiences seem to be generally positive and mood stimulating with little in the way of adverse side effects.

What does ASMR feel like?

Someone can feel ASMR even when they are not actively trying to experience it. Watching Bob Ross painting skillfully is a common trigger. When someone gets tingles while watching a video, then that video is taken as an ASMR video for them. Many videos are described as ASMR videos on the net. These videos contain popular elements that trigger ASMR, but not everyone is triggered by the same element.

A perfect ASMR video for one person may be utterly useless for the other. So, you have to watch a variety of videos, and find out your own trigger. Apart from this reaction, some people also say that ASMR brings happiness, relaxation, peace, comfort and even euphoria to them. According to a recent study[1], some people even use ASMR to relieve chronic pain, feel better during an illness, and even accelerate the healing process. Some ASMR users watch a video at bed time to induce sleepiness.

What are the most common ASMR triggers?

Anything safe, methodical and repetitive is capable of triggering ASMR. Sounds like a monotone drone, tapping, scratching and whispering are among the strongest ASMR triggers. Some kinds of touch also trigger ASMR, such as a massage, physical examination, hair stroking, etc. Some ASMR videos may contain seemingly random ASMR triggers, such as someone whispering slowly, scratching a paper or producing a chewing sound. Some videos may also be categorized into over-arching ASMR themes, such as roleplay, empathy, repetitive actions and others.

According to a 2015 survey[2], the most common ASMR triggers include personal attention, whispers, crisp sounds, repetitive movements, smiles and slow movements. Researchers say that most effective ASMR videos involve caring for the viewer in some manner, such as being groomed or being examined by a doctor. Other videos involve activities that need close attention, such as tapping on a surface, building a model, cooking a recipe, etc.

What is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)? - What are the most common ASMR triggers?

Using ASMR as a treatment method

The feeling of relaxation that you get with ASMR is found to be helpful in inducing sleep. According to a study, many people like to watch videos of their ASMR triggers before going to bed, as it helps in having a restful sleep. ASMR is also found to be effective in changing mood. Experiencing ASMR can be helpful in treating symptoms of depression, relieving stress and feeling better physically and mentally. Scientists are trying to find out whether ASMR can be helpful in treating problems like panic disorders, depression, anxiety, insomnia and chronic stress. There is little evidence, probably because everyone experiences ASMR differently and there is as yet no method of stereotyping.

Difference between intentional and unintentional ASMR

Sometimes, ASMR experts purposefully create triggers to induce related feelings. This is called intentional ASMR. Most common examples of intentional ASMR include performances by dancers, poets, composers and YouTube ASMRtists.

ASMR triggers accidentally created by people are called unintentional ASMR. Examples include watching the aforementioned Bob Ross painting on canvas, watching an unboxing video, getting groomed by a hair dresser, observing the actions of a teacher, being examined by a clinician, etc. ASMRtists who intentionally elicit this feeling tend to have some common dispositions, such as kindness, care, empathy, attention, focus, trust, dedication, expertise and calmness in their vocal tone.

Common ASMR scenarios

Strongest ASMR triggers include a mix of trigger types and someone with the perfect disposition. For instance, when you watch Bob Ross painting, the video includes a variety of gentle tapping sounds, expert and methodical hand movements and the painter’s gentle disposition. If a trigger is created intentionally to trigger ASMR, then it is called an ASMR role-play. It is commonly performed on YouTube by ASMRtists.

General scenarios of ASMR include methodical completion of tasks, instructional demonstrations, focused activities, consultation and personal attention videos. The viewer may be involved as an observer or as a participant. Some common examples include origami paper folding, hair grooming, spa treatments, turning pages of a magazine and folding a towel.

Benefits of ASMR

Videos of people purposefully stimulating ASMR triggers have become increasingly popular over the internet. Many viewers find these videos relaxing and helpful in de-stressing, falling asleep and feeling good during sad periods. Some people suffering from medical disorders also find these videos helpful in dealing with insomnia, depression, anxiety and panic disorders.

ASMR Vs meditation

In order to experience ASMR, a person needs to listen to or watch relaxing recordings and videos in silence. That is why, ASMR is usually found to be similar to meditation and mindfulness. People trying to experience this feeling focus on emotions triggered by stimuli and direct attention to those. Eventually, ASMR may be described as a kind of exercise in meditation. With further experiment and research, it may be categorized as a sensory phenomenon that can reveal more therapeutic potential.

International ASMR Day

‘I Am ASMR’ is a group of people on Facebook that designated 9th April as the International ASMR Day. On 9th Mach, a Facebook page, named ‘International ASMR Day’, was created which gained more than 3200 likes within a year. In 2013, a collaboration video was uploaded on YouTube in honor of this day, which gained more than 175 comments and 8400 views within a day. Such a huge fan following of ASMR itself shows how popular the method is, and how it is benefiting people across the globe. With increasing stress and tensions in our society, people are looking for more ways to feel relaxed and ASMR might be part of their solution.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)?, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.


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