What Is ASMR? Definition, History & Best YouTube Examples

ASMR Definition

ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is still a relatively new creation. It describes a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds.

What kind of visual or audio clips can create such a lovely feeling?

It might surprise you, but the videos are of people doing incredibly simple, quiet, calming tasks, such as folding towels, brushing their hair, or flipping magazine pages. You might hear someone’s voice speaking in the background of the video, but not always. The audio clips often consist of voices whispering nice things (like “You are appreciated”), or contain the sound of tapping, scratching, or rain.

ASMR doesn’t work for everyone and it can be tough to imagine the sensation if you don’t experience it first-hand. For most people who do experience it, the blissful tingling starts up in the scalp and then makes its way through the body to the arms and legs. And as a result, it can trigger a feeling of relaxation before bedtime, which can help you overcome insomnia. The audio/video segments are long—in fact, some last up to an hour. They are lengthy so that you can keep watching or listening to them until you drift off.

Check out the video example below:

There are two ways that people can experience ASMR. You can experience it through simple meditation or just thinking about a scene or sound that pleases you. Or you can experience it through watching a video or listening to a recording. As for the mechanisms at work behind ASMR, nobody is quite sure why some people react the way that they do. It could be that the videos remind you of your childhood (perhaps, for example, you watched your mom do the same action as a kid, so it’s comforting) or that the simple sounds lull you into a relaxed state.

ASMR Studies

The first formal study of ASMR was published in 2015 and found, when it comes to triggers, there are four main types.

These were whispering (75%), personal attention (69%), crisp sounds (64%) and slow movements (53%).

ASMR Triggers
ASMR Research Study!

In terms of why people seek out ASMR, an overwhelming number (98 percent) of study participants said they used it as an opportunity for relaxation, while 82 percent agreed they used ASMR to help them go to sleep.

Only five percent reported using ASMR media for sexual stimulation.

The study then went on to suggest that, much like meditation and mindfulness, ASMR could improve mood and pain symptoms and may even provide temporary relief for depression.

ASMR Triggers Chart
ASMR Triggers

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