I recently discovered that there is a corner of the internet dominated by people whispering into microphones. ASMR channels on YouTube have millions of followers who attest that it helps them calm down and sleep. It’s a quite odd so I decided to look into it.
ASMR refers to autonomous sensory meridian response, and also covers other kinds of videos like slime video and kinetic sand videos. Nothing really happens in these clips except for people playing with homemade slime and cutting very slowly through sand sculptures. Yet, people have claimed that it has great effects when you need to snooze.
The science behind it though is still a little foggy. The phenomena among people is varied and the study on it is fairly new. In 2015, PeerJ asked 500 people why they watch ASMR videos. Majority of them attested that it helped them “relax, de-stress and get to sleep.” Some even say it also gives them a sexual kick. I won’t touch on that for now.
What I’m curious to know is how exactly these videos work. Why does one upload these and earn hundreds and thousands of views? Right now, all science can explain is how it gives you a tingling sensation from the back of your head that goes down your spine. It’s akin to a very relaxing massage, I suppose. Or when you enter a spa and they’ve set the relaxing mood effectively, you shudder a bit at the scent wafting from the air purifier.
According to Self, Dr. W. Christopher Winter explains that ASMR videos work in the way white noise does. It’s just a steady sensation with no surprises. You don’t have to be on your guard for changes. I think you could say that it helps send you in a trance.
ASMR videos are also #oddlysatisfying. The repetitive actions are relaxing; it’s almost perfect how ASMR videos are a stark contrast to how our world can often be. Dr. Gail Saltz also told Self that these videos can also trigger childhood memories, particularly those times when we feel nurtured.
There are still a lot of theories going on about ASMR but it seems like a lot of people can testify to its sleep-inducing effect. Some people even say it helps when one feels anxious and needs to slow down.
Whether you find it odd to listen and watch a woman fold laundry or whisper very softly into a microphone, I have this feeling that ASMR videos are here to say. Not to mention how the growing interest in scientific research will help explain why it’s such a big hit. For now, I think there is no harm in trying it, especially when you’ve having one of those restless nights. Or when your supply of Lush Sleepy Body Lotion runs out.