Updated at: 05-01-2022 - By: Jane Brody

When it comes to the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), the tingling sensation in the head or neck and down the spine is characterized by many who have experienced it. Feeling peaceful and relaxed is one of the many benefits of meditative practices. Internet and YouTube are overflowing with “ASMR” information right now.

It’s possible that you’ve experienced this sensation while receiving a massage, having your hair brushed, or hearing certain (often monotonous) sounds.

Even though ASMR is quite prevalent, you’re not the only one who hasn’t felt this nearly ecstatic sensation. It isn’t something that happens to everyone, unfortunately.

In one study, 813 persons (81 percent) out of the 1,002 participants reported having an ASMR experience.

How does ASMR feel?

To someone who has never had ASMR, it’s difficult to put into words what it’s like. One popular description is that of a tingling sensation that begins in the head and spreads down the spine to the limbs and hands and feet.

It soothes anxiousness in some people. It’s a sedative for certain people. Some people claim that it provides them with short-term relief from discomfort.

As if you were in a state of euphoria, some people describe it.

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What triggers ASMR?

ASMR can be elicited by visuals as well as sounds, depending on the individual.

Depending on the person, any sound can elicit an ASMR response. The majority of the time, these are dreary, monotonous sounds. Whispering, typing on a computer, a blow dryer, tapping, buzzing, or even rain are examples of possible sources of noise.

In addition, receiving one’s own individual attention appears to be a common trigger. When someone is stroking your hair, you may feel a tiny tickle, but you also feel wonderfully calm.

Getting your nails done, getting your hair trimmed, getting a massage, or having someone else rub your arm may also give you this sensation. It’s possible that anything could elicit this type of response from someone.

How does ASMR work?

For all that it’s been around, ASMR has just recently been given its own name and investigated. Nearly all the information we have comes from people who have had direct contact with it.

The physiological changes that occur during ASMR have been hypothesized.

Certain chemicals may be released in your brain when you notice your “trigger,” resulting in feelings of relaxation, contentment, and a desire to sleep.

Endorphins

The brain and nerve system secrete substances known as endorphins. Pain and stress can be alleviated by taking these supplements. This “euphoric” feeling that some people get from ASMR could be a result of these chemicals.

Oxytocin

When you give someone a hug, you release oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the “love hormone.” It’s the hormone’s secretion that promotes positive emotions like love, connection, and well-being. ASMR’s “tingly” sensation may be a result of this.

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Serotonin

When serotonin is released, it has been shown to reduce stress, aid in relaxing, and even help people sleep better.

Dopamine

Motivating, rewarding, remembering, and paying attention all depend on dopamine. It’s also been shown to promote dependency on drugs and alcohol on occasion. This may be true for ASMR as well, since it may compel you to seek out the sensation again and again.

As previously said, these are only speculations about how ASMR affects the brain’s physiological functions.

Because of its relative newness, ASMR has only just begun to be explored.

To see if watching ASMR films has any effect on ASMR sufferers’ physiology, researchers conducted a study. A group of ASMR sufferers participated in the study, as did a non-ASMR group.

A decrease in heart rate and an increase in skin electrical conductivity were observed in the ASMR group during the research.

Following the viewing of the videos, ASMR participants reported feeling more relaxed, but they did not experience any increases in excitement, stress, or sexual desire as a result.

Why does ASMR happen?

It’s possible that ASMR has been around for a long time. However, it was just recently discovered and practically tested. In 2015, researchers at Swansea University in the United Kingdom published the first study of ASMR in a peer-reviewed journal. ASMR content is incredibly popular online, and scientists are taking notice of the surge in the public interest.

ASMR is a subjective phenomenon, and there is no scientific evidence to support its widespread use in society. Most persons who report experiencing ASMR describe having their first experience with it as a child, according to a 2015 study. Through these and other investigations, we’ve been able to pinpoint some of its traits and certain commonalities among those who suffer from it.

ASMR may be similar to “flow.”

Flow is a well-recognized mental and emotional state characterized by both deep rest and intense concentration. In a state of flow, we are able to focus and perform at our highest level of mental and physical efficiency. When we’re completely absorbed in what we’re doing, we lose track of time. Researchers have found commonalities between ASMR and flow, including a profound sensation of tranquility and contentment.

Is there a key distinction between ASMR and the flow? We’re in a state of flow when we’re immersed in a task, whether it’s playing music, solving a math problem, or swinging a golf club. There is no such task engagement in ASMR, on the other hand. The whole sensation appears to be one of passive relaxation instead.

Is ASMR connected to misophonia?

Consider misophonia as the opposite of ASMR’s joyful, calming effects. Misophonia is a condition in which a person’s hearing is too sensitive to specific sounds. Those who suffer from misophonia are highly sensitive to these sounds, which can cause them to feel agitated, angry, and disgusted. Misophonia is frequently brought on by sounds such as chewing or breathing.

Many people who suffer from misophonia also suffer from ASMR, according to a recent large-scale study. As a result, it’s possible that sensory sensitivity and emotional sensitivity can coexist on some sort of continuum. Sleeping may be difficult for people with misophonia who are particularly sensitive to sounds like yawning, heavy breathing, and even snoring.

Synesthesia is another sensory ailment that has certain characteristics with ASMR. When one sense is stimulated, the other sense is automatically stimulated. Other examples include seeing colors when listening to music, or hearing noises when smelling a specific scent. Nearly 6% of persons with ASMR also have synesthesia, according to recent studies.

Is ASMR related to mindfulness?

It’s possible to mix mindfulness with ASMR-like attentiveness to the senses and feelings. When we are in a state of mindfulness, we are more aware of our senses and more aware of our own thoughts and feelings. When we’re mindful, we accept and don’t judge the sensations and emotions we’re aware of. Many persons with ASMR report experiencing similar states of deep relaxation and contentment as a result of practicing mindfulness.

A new study looked into the probable link between ASMR and mindfulness. Researchers discovered that those who reported having an ASMR experience showed higher levels of awareness than those who reported not having an ASMR experience.

Stress reduction, improved sleep quality and quantity, and a shorter time to sleep are all benefits of practicing mindfulness. I’ve previously written on the benefits of mindful practices for improving sleep.

Are some personalities more prone to ASMR?

According to a study published in 2017, this is the case. Nearly 300 persons with and without ASMR had their personality qualities examined by researchers, who then compared the results to those of the control group. Those with ASMR were more likely to be interested and to think and fantasize, to be artistic and less traditional in their lives and outlooks, according to the researchers. Self-consciousness, worry, and depression were all more common in people with ASMR.

Many aspects of one’s personality influence one’s ability to sleep. Think about how much we know about our chronotypes and how they affect our lives. If you’re a Lion (morning type), you’re less prone to suffer from insomnia than Wolves (evening type), who tend to be the most restless and irritable at night. If you’re unsure of your chronotype, feel free to contact us.) You can take my test here.

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Brain differences related to ASMR

At this point, scientists only have a rudimentary understanding of how ASMR affects the brain. People with ASMR may have structural and functional changes, according to preliminary studies. A 2017 study discovered that persons who experienced ASMR had brain regions that showed higher degrees of connectivity—basically, these brain regions worked more actively in a “networked” manner. As a side effect, persons with ASMR had brain networks that were less densely connected than those without.

Researchers now believe that ASMR may be the consequence of a “blending” of brain networks that results in the condition’s dual sensory and emotional experiences.

Potential benefits of ASMR for sleep

It’s only recently that scientists have begun to investigate the potential benefits of ASMR in the treatment of sleep disorders. Insomnia and other sleep problems may benefit from ASMR, but we don’t yet have scientific evidence to support this claim.

We do know, however, that many people who use ASMR do so in order to aid in their sleep patterns. According to a study conducted in 2015, the majority of people who utilize ASMR do so in order to aid their sleep. According to this study, 81 percent of participants said they utilized ASMR just before going to bed, making it the most popular time of day to engage in it.

How might ASMR work to enhance sleep?

Although we can’t be sure, recent research and reports from real-world users point to various possibilities:

Reducing stress

Because of ASMR, people who use it report feeling substantially calmer and less anxious.

ASMR films have been shown to reduce both psychological and physiological stress in patients with ASMR, according to a study published in 2018. ASMR consumers noticed their emotional stress go down and feelings of tranquility grow, and they experienced a fall in heart rate. People without ASMR in this study watched the same videos as those who did, but they did not experience the same stress-relieving effects as those who did. In this study, ASMR’s physiological consequences were studied for the first time.

However, data showed that calming emotions were frequently associated with sensations of excitement and that lower heart rates were frequently associated with other signals of non-sexual arousals, such as increased blood flow to the brain. These studies show how ASMR can elicit a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. One of the most prevalent hurdles to getting a good night’s sleep is tension, and ASMR’s stress-relieving effects may be one of the reasons why so many people utilize it.

Improving mood

ASMR has a profoundly uplifting effect on the mood of many people, according to those who have experienced it. A brief improvement in mood and alleviation from depression symptoms, such as melancholy, are been documented in studies.

It was observed that 80 percent of ASMR participants reported a favorable influence on mood, while another study in 2018 indicated that those with ASMR had lower levels of sadness after watching ASMR videos.

Depression and anxiety are mood disorders that have a significant impact on sleep quality. Getting enough sleep has a direct impact on how anxious or depressed you feel. Another way that ASMR may help you sleep better is by calming you down while also relieving your melancholy or other depressive or anxious sensations.

Relief from pain

Some persons with ASMR may be able to alleviate their chronic discomfort through ASMR, according to preliminary scientific findings. In one study, half of the participants who experienced both ASMR and chronic pain reported transitory improvements in their pain symptoms after utilizing ASMR. To learn more about the connection between pain and sleep, I’ve written about how physical pain, especially as we age, can make it difficult to sleep.

How to use ASMR

There are numerous methods to experiment with ASMR. National Sleep Foundation recommends checking out ASMRUniversity and ASMRLabas to understand more about how ASMR works, as well as to find ASMR videos and music.

With the help of mindfulness, you can build this kind of sleep-inducing sensory and emotional experience on your own.

Relaxation and sensory awareness, as well as an emotional sense of well-being, can be achieved by meditation.

In addition, visualization techniques such as imagining yourself lying on a warm grassy field with a gentle breeze caressing your skin and rolling past your ears can produce similar results.

It’s also possible to fall asleep to recordings of nature noises like rain and wind, which can help you relax and calm yourself into a serene physical and emotional state.

Remember, not all of us are likely capable of having an ASMR experience.

Even if you don’t get the ASMR effect, you can still have a good night’s sleep and improve your overall health and well-being by meditating, visualizing, or using sound therapy.

Have you had an ASMR experience in your life?

If yes, do you use these experiences to help you relax and improve your quality of sleep?? A better understanding of why ASMR has become so popular as a sleep aid is something I hope we’ll learn more about shortly.

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Can ASMR Help You Sleep?

ASMR has not been studied extensively for its ability to help with sleep or sleep disorders. ASMR, on the other hand, has been shown to help certain people sleep better based on anecdotal data and existing studies.

That ASMR helps sleep is supported by what we know about how it works. Dopamine and oxytocin, for example, have been shown to be relaxing and sleep-inducing chemicals that are activated in the brain by ASMR.

More than eight out of ten people use movies or audio clips to induce ASMR to utilize it to help them fall asleep. Aside from overall relaxation, this is the second most prevalent reason people utilize ASMR material. One study found that 81% of participants liked to listen or view ASMR media immediately before going to bed. Bedtime is also the most popular time to use ASMR media. Only 6% of those polled preferred to use ASMR media prior to midday.

An audio stimulation known as binaural beats was used by one group of ASMR sleep aid researchers in combination with ASMR triggers. Despite the fact that this pairing seems to be successful, no other studies have focused just on ASMR.

Does ASMR Have Other Benefits?

There hasn’t been much research on ASMR’s other possible applications, such as helping people go asleep. Researchers, on the other hand, are interested in its potential to treat those suffering from sadness or anxiety. More than 80% of those who use ASMR media say it improves their mood and has an effect that lasts for several hours after they stop using it. ASMR media may be useful in treating mental health disorders if anecdotal evidence shows that it offers reliable emotional and physiological advantages. However, additional investigation is required before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

People who use ASMR media say that it helps them manage chronic pain, just as it does with their sleep and mood. The advantages of ASMR have been reported to extend up to three hours following the ASMR experience by just 41% of chronic pain ASMR media consumers.

A further area of investigation is the connection between ASMR and mindfulness, which is the practice of being fully present in the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular because of their positive effects on stress, sleep, and chronic pain management. ASMR may be linked to mindfulness since people who experience it tend to be more mindful than those who don’t.

How to Use ASMR for Sleep

When it comes to ASMR, no two people are alike. It’s possible that a film or audio clip that moves one individual won’t move another. Consequently, users can employ ASMR in a variety of methods for a good night’s rest.

The first step is to determine whether or not you are capable of experiencing ASMR. ASMR videos are widely available online, with a large range of triggers to choose from. Try several films and sound clips to see if ASMR works best for your personal preferences and needs.

ASMR is best used in a quiet, peaceful setting. Stereo headphones, which produce a richer, fuller sound, are also preferred by the vast majority of listeners. Wearing standard headphones while you sleep can be uncomfortable, so if you use ASMR to help you fall asleep, you may want to invest in a pair of flat headphones for sleeping.

Keep in mind that ASMR by itself is unlikely to be as helpful as ASMR in conjunction with excellent sleep hygiene. ASMR is worth remembering. The blue light emitted by cell phones, for example, is known to interfere with a person’s ability to sleep. ASMR can also be used in conjunction with other relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to help you wind down before going to bed.

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