For the unacquainted, autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, refers to the experience of a pleasurable tingling sensation that is triggered by particular stimuli.
A sort of euphoria is possible for some people while listening to quiet ambient noise or the sound of a whisper.
Many people report that ASMR offers relief from insomnia, depression, and anxiety. The evidence just might be in the millions of youtube views. Over the past few years, the video sharing platform has become a popular way to seek out an ASMR experience.
Given that part of our mission at Calm is to help you sleep better, we decided to explore this phenomenon. We reached out to self-identified ASMRtist, Emma Whispers Red, to see if she could enchant us into slumber.
Check out Emma's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection. Let us know if you get the tingles
Also, learn more about ASMR in the following interview with Emma and Calm Co-founder, Michael Acton Smith.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered ASMR?
My name is Emma, and I'm an ASMR content creator on YouTube. As long as I can remember, a calming 'tingly sensation' has been a part of my normal sensory experience. I loved the sense of contentment that I felt drifting off during story time or while my brother and sister drew letters on my back. When I tried to talk about it with others, I realized that not everyone shared my experience. Over time, I shied away from speaking about it, but still savoured the feeling whenever it arose. After a road accident which resulted in numerous operations, almost a year where I was unable to walk, and trouble falling asleep, I searched for relaxation videos on YouTube. That's when I discovered ASMR videos and that others also experience the same sensation that I'd been feeling since I was young.
What exactly is ASMR?
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It's a tingly/sparkly sensation that usually begins in the crown of the head and works its way down the back and through the limbs. The feeling is extremely relaxing and is often triggered by soft sounds, soft voices, whispering and light touching. Many people have an ASMR experience during a head massage or a facial, having their hair played with or while someone strokes their arm. Most individuals who experience ASMR, have strong memories of when this feeling was triggered as a child. For me, I always remember enjoying eye tests, having my hair played with and quiet time in class as the other students read books and slowly turned the pages. I create videos with the intention of inducing this feeling in the viewer.
How does ASMR relate to calm?
I've heard many people in the ASMR community talk about the Calm app. We understand the use of sound for relaxation and sleep. Personally, I know how important it is to have tools that I can turn to when I am struggling to sleep or relax. As a content creator, I receive emails regularly from viewers telling me how my videos have helped them through tough times. ASMR videos are said to put us into a meditative state and bring about presence. The ability to share ASMR digitally means that people can get the support they need when they need it. ASMR videos and Calm both offer accessible relief from day-to-day stress.
Does everybody have the same response to ASMR?
Not everyone experiences the sensation of ASMR. Even for those who experience it, the videos made to induce it are not always appealing. Each person has a unique set of triggers, in the same way, that people prefer different food or music. That's why there is a huge variety of content available.
Some people who have never heard of ASMR videos or who have different sensitivities find it hard to understand the intention behind them or why others might enjoy them. At first glance, some videos seem quite intimate, so I can understand the confusion. There is also a phenomenon, known as Misophonia, which is an aversion to some sounds. So crunching paper or mouth sounds can produce a kind of opposite ASMR effect!
How big is the global ASMR community?
The first 'Whisper Video' was made in 2009. The term ASMR came later. Since then, the community of "experiencers" which includes both viewers and content creators has grown rapidly. One video alone can accrue millions of views as individuals will use it on several occasions to drift off to sleep. In addition to those who feel the tingly sensation, those who simply enjoy sounds and voices as a means of relaxation have joined the ASMR community. Millions of kind and sensitive people find a common connection in sound. It's a global phenomenon that continues to gain momentum every month. ASMR has become so popular, that we're finding the techniques used in advertising and even famous actors have tried their hand at making videos. It's a lot of fun and wonderful to see, but for me being able to reach out to others with love, kindness, acceptance, and courage is everything. Sensitive people of the world unite! We're taking over!
I am an ASMR content creator on YouTube and film videos in a little shed in my garden. This lovely feeling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I was sensitive, introverted and definitely a daydreamer. Over time, the tingles became a soothing tool, something dear to me and a form of escapism. From daydreaming in class to falling asleep listening to sounds from downstairs, it was a personal experience and I felt very lucky to have it. It kept me calm when the whole world around me wasn’t. I did over time try to explain it to others in my life but was often met with blank looks even halfway through the first sentence. It was always very hard to explain and after time, I stopped. Later though, I found that my younger Brother experiences it. He named it ‘The Golden Feeling’ a perfect description.