Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, better known as ASMR, is taking the world by storm. There are YouTubers, known as ASMRtists, making a name for themselves solely on these very interesting videos. There was even an ASMR commercial at this year’s Super Bowl. Some people swear by ASMR as a way of helping them to sleep better, reduce stress, and reduce anxiety. Other people dismiss it as a strange social media trend. What is ASMR, and does it really work?

What is ASMR?

ASMR is a phenomenon where sounds produce a tangible response within the body. The response usually associated with ASMR is a soothing tickling feeling that travels from the top to the bottom of the spine. This sensation is mild and relaxing. It doesn’t make a person squirm or laugh. It is so relaxing that many people use ASMR to help them sleep.  

There are a variety of sounds that cause this unique bodily phenomenon. Many ASMR videos include people talking very softly. These videos can also include percussion noises like wrinkling papers or tapping on objects. Typing and pretending to do paperwork are also very common in the ASMR community. Some of the most famous ASMRtists chew and drink loudly during their videos.

Role-playing is very common in the ASMR community. Some ASMRtists record videos pretending to be doctors, teachers, friends, and a variety of other people that could be encountered in daily life. The purpose of role-playing is to mimic situations that people usually find comfortable or soothing. Teachers and doctors usually have a person’s best interests at heart and are willing to listen to them. There are even some ASMR videos that include people checking into a hotel or having some other type of interaction with a business person.

What do believers say?

ASMR is a relatively new concept, and reliable scientific studies can take decades to complete. In fact, there is only one published study about ASMR, so there is limited scientific evidence to prove that this is a truly effective method for treating any mental disorder. The study was conducted by a research team at Swansea University.

People who use ASMR have said that it helps them to deal with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Anxiety makes a person feel uncomfortable and at times paranoid. A familiar, soothing sound helps to combat these feelings. ASMR produces a mental and physical sensation of relaxation, and this helps insomniacs sleep faster. People suffering from depression want comfort. Hearing a soothing voice or the soothing sound of paper being crumpled may help a person find a healthy source of comfort and escape.

What do doctors say?

ASMR was discussed on a segment of the talk show The Doctors. The panelists on this show are all licensed medical professional. Judy Ho, the psychologist on the show said that some of her patients love ASMR. She does not prescribe it because it is not completely proven yet, but she does not discourage it either. The doctors stressed that ASMR should not be looked at as some kind of miracle treatment. Patients who have already been prescribed a treatment from their doctor should not stop it without the doctor’s permission. Anyone who has severe mental illness should not rely solely on ASMR. A medical professional can provide more treatment methods.

Many doctors are very excited about the possibility of ASMR. Anxiety can be a debilitating illness. In its most severe form, it can leave a person incapable of going about daily life. Current treatments for anxiety and depression involve various forms of psychotherapy, medication, and electroconvulsive therapy. Psychotherapy may or may not work for a person and depends largely on how much the patient is willing to be involved in the therapy session. A person with severe anxiety or depression may be unmotivated, untrusting, and unwilling to talk due to symptoms of the illness. Medications and electroconvulsive therapy can have side effects.

Some patients who are willing to accept the risks of these methods are still unable to be treated because they can’t afford medical care. ASMR is free because it can be accessed plentifully on the internet, and there are no side effects to it. ASMR is also an exciting possibility to people in the medical industry because there are still some people who are too ashamed to seek medical attention for their mental health. ASMR might work for these people, and it allows them to get some form of help in the privacy of their own homes.

Are there any dangers?

So far, there is no evidence to prove that ASMR is dangerous. There are many people who discount it, but there is no evidence that there is anything categorically unhealthy or unwholesome about it. The term “role-playing” that is associated with ASMR has led some to the wrong conclusion that some of the videos are erotic. While each ASMRtist sets there own standards, the role-playing in ASMR videos is usually clean in nature and is not intended to cause sexual stimulation.

Some people have also made the assumption that ASMR is some form of hypnotism. Again, each ASMRtist set his or her own standards, but it is not commonplace to use any sort of hypnotism in ASMR videos. The idea of a sound producing a bodily sensation is not uncanny. Many people don’t like the sound of nails going across a chalkboard or of metal utensils being scraped on a ceramic plate. Some say that these sounds cause their teeth to set on edge. ASMR sounds cause bodily sensation that are pleasant rather than unpleasant.

The only true danger that exists with ASMR is listening to it too loudly. Since the sounds are so soft, there is a temptation to turn it up very loud. When using headphones, it is important to pay attention to the volume level. Although ASMR is not music, any sound that is too loud produces vibrations that can cause damage to the highly sensitive eardrums.

Although the efficacy of ASMR hasn’t been thoroughly proven yet, it is not harmful. Try it! You might like it.