Did you ever lay down and just KNOW you weren’t going to get any sleep that night?
Or were you ever SO pumped to go to bed because you were tired af and then you stared at your ceiling for ten hours? Insomnia is the worst, especially when you know you have to get up early the next morning. You could take some cold medicine to knock you out, but you don’t like the idea of all those chemicals in your body for no reason. You don’t have any sleeping pills and counting sheep is made up and useless, so, what do you do? Grab your laptop, go to Youtube, and type in this crazy simple thing called “ASMR”.
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response.
It’s just a long, made-up phrase that means you get a tingling sensation in your head and spine when you’re exposed to certain stimuli. Have you ever felt something like that when you were at the hair salon, or the doctor’s office, or while being taken care of by a parent when you were a kid? This is all ASMR. It’s a feeling sort of like chills that stem from getting personal attention, or from feelings of intimacy. And they relax the listener. It helps people de-stress and get to sleep. Of course, when you type in ASMR on Youtube, you’re getting a re-creation of those feelings of intimacy. But sometimes, as Julie Beck pointed out in her article for The Atlantic, it’s nice to get the tingling feeling without the vulnerability that comes with an actual intimate interaction.
Great, so what does ASMR have to do with mental health?
I know, I know. I promised you guest posts every Monday. Guest posts from people who have overcome incredibly difficult mental health situations and came out stronger because of it. However, sometimes life gets in the way, and plans change. Make plans, God laughs, ya know? So I’ve written a few mental health posts myself, that I’ll post in the event of a schedule change. They’re all chock full of good information too, I promise! Here’s how ASMR fits into the mental health picture.
ASMR is a really good natural solution for insomnia. And, as many of you know, insomnia is a really frustrating symptom of a lot of mental disorders. It’s a symptom of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and big lifestyle changes. And more, probably, if you want to get into it super deep. It helps because as I said before, it’s a way of recreating feelings of intimacy. And even further, it’s 100% natural. ASMR doesn’t involve medication, it’s not addictive, and it’s free. You can find thousands of videos right on Youtube. Below, I’ve organized some popular ones based on some popular ways to trigger the sensation.
There’s also a really lovely community of ASMR content creators and listeners on Youtube. This is good for your mental health because support is HUGE for getting through hard times. Every video I’ve ever seen has comments thanking the ASMRtist for helping them get past their mental health issue for the night to get some sleep. And those comments have hundreds of replies from people sending their well-wishes.
So, what are some ASMR triggers?
Good question. What makes people get these tingles? How do these “tingles” help with insomnia? What types of stimuli can effectively recreate personal attention through a screen? A ton, actually. There isn’t much research yet on why certain people feel certain triggers, so anything on that subject is speculation. But there is plenty of speculation.
The most popular triggers are whispering and speaking softly.
This is the whole premise of ASMR, and the most popular category of triggers. It might be because those types of voices are typical of intimate situations. Think- telling secrets, late night talks with friends, partners, loved ones, etc. Thinking about those kinds of situations may promote relaxation. Once you’re relaxed, it’s much easier to tell insomnia to shove it! Here are some channels by ASMRtists with great whispering and soft-speaking voices, along with a favorite video of mine:
Accents are also a big trigger. A lot of people like when a person speaks in broken English or with an accent. I think this could be because your brain is less able to predict the sound that’s coming next and prepare for it. You know, normally, you can anticipate the next sound, but when the person isn’t a native English speaker, it might come out different. Here are some popular ASMR videos from people who whisper in English, even though it isn’t their first language.
Another popular trigger category has nothing to do with talking– just sounds that can be created with your hands or other objects.
People seem to like the purposeful movement that comes with tapping and scratching. Personally, I’m not very responsive to these triggers because often they’re too loud for me, but I do like the purposeful movement. You can watch the tapping video I provided, but that transitions us nicely into the next triggers: visual ones.
The last trigger category is visual.
Visual ASMR triggers include any situation where the ASMRtist uses exaggerated hand movements, or pretends to touch the viewer. Sometimes it’s with a makeup brush, or they pretend to move hair away from your face, etc. A popular one is a follow-the-light trigger that you might experience at an eye doctor appointment. Here are a couple good examples: