Sometimes it’s tough to feel calm and relaxed when it’s time for bed — modern life can be loud and stressful, whether you’re overwhelmed with obligations, tuned into the constant news cycle, or just plain overworked. You’ve tried what you already know should work — lowering the lights, putting down the screens, drinking warm tea… but nothing works! Maybe it’s time to try something new. Maybe it’s time for you to try ASMR sleep.
What is ASMR?
ASMR, short for “autonomous sensory meridian response" (that’s why there’s an acronym) is the feeling of euphoria and relaxation coupled with tingling sensations that can occur when a person hears specific sounds or watches specific videos. It’s a difficult sensation to describe if you haven’t experienced it personally, but in the past few years ASMR has grown widely popular, with videos fetching millions upon millions of YouTube views. ASMR sleep refers to videos specifically intended to help the viewer relax to a state of falling asleep.
What is an ASMR video?
An ASMR video is simply a video that helps induce ASMR triggers, the sounds and visuals that help induce a euphoric state. These can range from lightly whispering in your ears, the sound of a hairbrush being used, a ball bouncing, light tapping, or any of hundreds of other stimuli. What works for one person may not trigger ASMR at all for another, and anything that makes a person experience an ASMR response is referred to as an “ASMR trigger.”
Some commonalities include:
Isolated Sounds — many people enjoy a clear, crisp isolated sound without any interfering sounds. Many ASMR videos are created with high fidelity equipment in silent environments so that the intentionality of the sounds is pronounced. For a whisper-heavy ASMR video, this allows the listener to hear subtle sounds of lips parting and the tongue slightly moving.
Consistent Volume — ASMR almost always has consistency in volume, as the introduction of a high pitched volume point in the midst of an ASMR trigger takes the recipient out of their comfort zone pretty quickly. Imagine meditating and hearing someone clap!
Slow Pace — many ASMR sleep videos have periods of silence, breaks between breaths, and a comforting flow from one part to the next. Rather than overwhelming the recipient with relaxing sounds, a great ASMR experience can simply be an isolated sound trigger with ample silence.
Where do I Start with ASMR Sleep?
If you’ve never used ASMR as a sleep aid before, try some of these popular triggers. While one ASMR trigger may do nothing for you, another may immediately induce euphoric and relaxing feelings, helping you to settle down for the evening. The goal with ASMR sleep triggers is to help you relax — if something doesn’t help induce an ASMR response, don’t fret! Just try something else, whatever works for you. The feeling of euphoria that can come over a person when triggered by ASMR sights and sounds is euphoric, and a sense of well being can help wash away the stressful feelings of a long day (or week… or year). All you need to try out an ASMR video and see if its right for you is to put in some headphones (preferably high quality ones), lay down in a comfortable position, and hit the play button — with a little luck (and trying different videos out) you’ll feel the stress of the world float away as you drift into slumber.
Each of these triggers below has a link to a popular video — give ‘em a try!
This is by far the most common ASMR trigger. Gentle whispering can result in feelings of calmness and relaxation, of closeness to another person. Try it here.
Blowing sounds, while similar to whispering, resemble a gentle breeze rather without words, which can distract some. Let a soft wind drift you off to sleep. Try it here.
One of the most popular ASMR sleep triggers, this usually involves the sound of nails tapping on surfaces like glass or wood, which promotes relaxation. Try it here.
Repetitive sounds can be some of the most relaxing sleep triggers, especially one that is already often associated with winding down and getting ready for sleep. The sound of a page turning can trigger associations with falling asleep, helping you do so yourself. Try it here.
Scratching or Brushing
Despite being one of the most popular ASMR options, the sound of nails scratching metal, plastic, or even just the microphone itself, can be either extremely relaxing or quite off-putting. Find out for yourself, it might help you fall asleep faster. Try it here.
Why Has ASMR Become so Popular Recently?
It’s hard to say what has made ASMR so popular, but it’s clear that it works for people. Conversation about ASMR started increasing in the early 2010s with SteadyHealth, an early ASMR group, but it is clear that the phenomenon hasn’t slowed a bit. Maybe we’re collectively looking for a way to combat the constant influx of stimuli in the outside world, our individual difficulties with sleep, or just a simple way to relax (in the same way many gravitate toward meditation and sparse, ambient relaxation music now).
According to the New York Times, “[ASMR] has not depended on brain imaging for cultural acceptance. Our foremost “proof” of A.S.M.R. comes from some people searching for the term and others making videos to populate those searches. All these YouTube users may be right that the feeling is real, but the scientific research still lags far behind.”
Try ASMR Sleep
While studies will surely someday catch up to the popularity of this shared cultural experience, it is doubtless that people will continue to use ASMR as a sleep and relaxation aid for the foreseeable future. Will ASMR sleep videos help you experience a euphoric, relaxing sensation? Well, there’s certainly no harm in finding out! ASMR sleep? Whisper those sweet words into my ear.