More Than A YouTube Phenomenon
Most people respond the same way when I tell them that I watch ASMR videos. “That’s...so weird,” they say. And I get it. I used to feel similar whenever someone mentioned ASMR, but then I discovered the brain-tingling phenomenon for myself.
It started when “Cardi B Explores ASMR” popped up in my recommended video feed on YouTube. I decided to watch out of sheer curiosity, sure that, at the very least, I’d get a good laugh out of the experience. One minute, I was watching Cardi B whisper “okurrr” into a microphone, and the next, I was fast asleep, drool rolling down the side of my pillow. I woke up feeling incredibly calm and relaxed. I’d been converted.
I then began exploring different ASMRtists (ASMR artists) on YouTube more intentionally. I discovered an ASMRtist named Julia (aka Itsblitzzz), who focuses on massage and skincare videos. Before I knew it, I was watching her ASMR videos nearly every night before bed, which had an extremely positive affect on my sleeping patterns.
Julia, herself, uses ASMR as a way to relax before bed, and manage anxiety. She explains, “ASMR videos helped me fall asleep when I wasn’t able to on my own, and greatly lessened the symptoms of recurring panic attacks that I used to experience regularly...For me, these videos provide a feeling of unmatched relaxation and I am usually able to fall asleep within minutes.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of ASMR entirely, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a “physical tingling sensation that begins in your scalp and moves down through the spine to the limbs” (ASMR.com). Not all people experience ASMR, but those who do experience a “brain tingling” sensation triggered by audible stimuli such as whispering, brushing, and tapping noises. ASMR videos have been reported to be beneficial for aiding sleep and relaxation.
In one study (outlined in this article) conducted at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, ASMR-experiencing participants were recorded as having significantly decreased heart rates, as well as an increase in positive feelings (such as relaxation) after watching two different ASMR videos. In another experiment, ASMR-experiencing participants were asked to watch a selection of ASMR and non-ASMR videos, reporting their emotional response to each clip. The study found that ASMR-experiencing participants reported increased levels of excitement and calmness and decreased levels of stress and sadness when watching the ASMR clip.
Despite how popular ASMR has become in pop culture, research is still very limited. “I believe there will be many scientific studies that examine ASMR in the future,” says Julia. “I wouldn’t be surprised if ASMR-based treatments could someday replace some pharmaceuticals that treat anxiety, depression, and certain sleep disorders.”
How To Get Started With ASMR
You might be wondering: how can I know if I experience ASMR? The only way to find out is to watch a video and see for yourself!
The wonderful thing about the ASMR community is that there are many different types of ASMRtists, and no two are exactly the same. Some ASMRtists focus on massage and skincare, others on visual ASMR, and others on personal attention and positive affirmation. If whispering is not your thing (this tends to be what freaks people out the most at first), there are a ton of non-whisper ASMR videos, as well as soft-spoken ASMR videos. Julia recommends YouTube and Spotify as starting points for your ASMR journey. Your mindset is key, she says: “I would encourage everyone to go into their initial explorations with an open mind and zero judgement or expectations.”
I’ve compiled a list of my three favorite ASMRtists to get you started. Each one focuses on a different aspect, and I encourage those who are ASMR-curious to give these videos a listen before bed tonight. You can then decide whether or not ASMR is for you!
My Favorite ASMRtists
Listen For | ASMR massage, whisper, & soft-spoken videos
It goes without saying that Julia is one of my favorite ASMRtists. My favorite videos are Julia’s ASMR massage videos in which she uses essential oils to massage her friends. Julia creates an environment of “non-sexualized intimacy” during her massages, often using essential oils, herbs, and gua sha. These videos are incredibly relaxing to watch, and Julia often shares her wisdom, which is comforting as well.
2. Slight Sounds
Listen For | Positive affirmation ASMR videos
A little positive affirmation goes a long way, especially after an exhausting day or stressful week. Slight Sounds offers an assortment of positive affirmation ASMR videos that help increase feelings of positivity, as well as improve sleep. Her videos feel incredibly personal, and offer a safe space for viewers to unwind and be reminded that everything’s going to be okay.
3. JOCIE B
Listen For | Skincare and makeup ASMR videos
If you’re into makeup and skincare routines, Jocie B may be the perfect ASMRtist for you to begin your journey with. She makes numerous ASMR videos about beauty and self care, and she occasionally films videos outside, which is a pleasant change of scenery from the usual ASMR video filmed in a dark room. Jocie’s upbeat attitude and overall sense of positivity allows viewers to end their day on a light note, or simply relax a bit throughout the day.
Have you tried ASMR? Share your experience in the comments below!