What is ASMR?
Have you heard of ASMR?
If you have, chances are you’ll have one of two reactions – you’ll either think it’s brilliant or just plain bizarre. There’s no middle ground for what has become nothing short of a phenomenon. But, what is ASMR? If you’re not familiar with the term, it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and it refers to the involuntarily ‘tingles’ we may get when watching or hearing certain stimuli.
That sounds a bit technical, but you’ve probably felt this sensation at some point in your life and not known what it’s called. That’s not surprising, as the name was only coined in 2010. In layman’s terms, it’s when you get those funny shivers in your head that may travel down your neck and spine. The sensation is usually accompanied by a soothing feeling that leaves us calm and relaxed. Sounds pretty great, right?
The drawback is it can be hard to know what ‘triggers’ this reaction. After all, it is involuntary. Common ASMR triggers include whispering, tapping, scratching, massaging, hair brushing and more. The key is soft sounds, gentle movements and repetition. But, what some people find relaxing, others will find intolerable – hence the polarising nature of ASMR. Personally, it sets my teeth on edge to listen to someone whisper right in my ear, but there are some people who find it wonderful.
ASMR has become a community within itself on YouTube. There are thousands upon thousands of videos dedicated to it. Whether you want to watch someone getting their hair brushed for half an hour or listen to someone repeatedly tapping random objects, you can find it. If that sounds weird to you, then it’s about to get even weirder– there’s also a whole subsection of roleplaying ASMR videos. The aim of these is to simulate events in a way that makes it seem like it’s actually happening, such as a scalp massage, doing your makeup or even cleaning your ears (yes, really)… These videos often use binaural microphones that produce 3D sound, which make everything that bit more realistic.
So, why am I even talking about this?
Well, I’m officially a convert.
I used to think ASMR was just creepy, whispered videos – I didn’t realise there’s an array of options out there. I really enjoy getting my hair brushed (doesn’t everyone?) but I’ve always felt a calming sensation whenever I see someone else’s hair getting brushed, too. It’s as though it’s my own hair. I never really gave it much thought, but little did I know I wasn’t alone! I soon discovered hundreds of hair brushing videos (like this one) and I was hooked. I find it so relaxing to watch the rhythmic motion of the hair brush and listen to the sound of the bristles. But, the biggest reason I enjoy ASMR is because it puts me to sleep.
It’s become my nightly routine to put ASMR videos on to fall asleep to. They’re like a narcotic. There’s a whole host of videos I’ve never seen the end of because I always drift to sleep. While I don’t tend to get tingles as such, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm when I watch them and my eyelids instantly get heavier. I’ve even found myself watching ASMR videos when I want to relax during the day, but have to fight the urge to fall asleep every time – it’s magic!
If you’re intrigued by ASMR, I recommend looking up some videos to see if it’s for you. Believe me when I say there’s no scenario too strange! You may sit perplexed and begrudge the minutes of your life you’ll never get back… or you may just discover something you’ve been missing out on.
Until next time,