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ASMR the amazing natural sedative

Updated on January 20, 2015

Sounds complicated, but isn't

The acronym ASMR. Doesn't mean much to some, for many of us it's one of life's natural delights. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Basically what it is, is a strangely relaxing, welcomed sensation that usually takes place on the head, different spots for different people, but typically on the top of the head. From there, it can travel down the spine, up and down the arms, it's different for different people. It's starts as a very slight tingling-like sensation on the top of your head. It then invokes a calm, relaxed, and peaceful feeling, one that is like none other, and is often described as a "mishmash" of the senses. It's invoked by a variety of stimuli, and broken down into 2 groups. It's a delight for the senses, and often puts people in a sort of trance. Think of the cartoon character staring off in the distance, with their tongue slipping out from their open mouth,drool running down, eyes barley open. Yes,that's the look that many of us get when we are experiencing an "episode", as it is often called. However, some people have it, and some do not. For those who do not, our deepest sympathy.... because it's a wonderfully enjoyable feeling like no other, and is very much an important part of some peoples lives as a tool to self-soothe, relax, rejuvenate, de-stress, calm down, almost zone out. All without the aid of any drug, pill, herb prescription, anything other than the "trigger", which invokes the sensation. In other words....ASMR is the Ambien of of the senses.

Types and triggers

So, ASMR is broken down into 2 types; Type A and Type B. Type A is when episodes are induced by using no external stimuli, usually through means of specific thought patterns unique to each and every person. Type B occurs more involuntarily through the use of external stimuli, through one or more of the senses, and is again, different for each person.

Stimuli can one or more of a billion things, usually being an external stimuli, and is unique to each person, however many people have many of the same stimuli triggers. Most often the stimuli occurs through another person, usually something seemingly insignificant and unnoticed by most, yet for those who experience ASMR, it stands out in our minds, something we never forget, and often refer back to, when creating an episode.

Typical examples are;

  • Very slow,unique speech patterns, often accents and the form in which a person is speaking.
  • Sounds produced by speech or from hand gestures and movements that create a noise of some sort, like the tapping of long nails on a table, the sound of typing on a keyboard, or the crinkling of a bag in someone hands. Also, the sound of the way someone says a particular letter, for many it's P's, S's, and T's. Sharp pronunciation of the letter, soft pronunciation of the letter when spoken, or anything in between.
  • Very soft touches, generally on the head area from things like a haircut. Or a soft touch of a gentle stroke on the skin of your arm or face, or prolonged dragging of a persons fingers on your skin, softly.
  • Visuals such the looks of the lips on a person by the way they speak. The use of their hands, often women with long delicate fingers with long or well manicured nails. Sways or other slow, soft movements. And other visuals like the slow spin of a ceiling fan, watching a person or animal breathing, chest rising and falling.
  • Repetitive patterns be them visual, or audible. Things like the noise of a slow drip from a sink faucet, in a distinct,repetitive pattern. A piece of art or a pattern in the carpeting.
  • Involvement in certain types of role-play, often things like eye exams from an optometry appointment, a tutorial or teaching session, manicure/pedicure appointment, or even a shopping experience, like watching someone flip through a catalog of products or other presentation.
  • Watching someone complete a task, such as sweeping a floor, filling out a form, wrapping a present,or picking an item off the shelf and slowly and methodically inspecting it/looking it over.
  • Very close personal interaction like someone speaking to you within inches of your face, or mimicking movements in a close proximity while teaching someone yoga, dancing or other slow movements.
  • And for some, there's the enjoyment of a music or art.

It's always different for different people, in terms of the actual sound, manner, look, or feeling of the stimuli, but many that experience ASMR, share the same or similar trigger points, things like the tapping of fingernails, using the fingers to drag against a certain material, watching ones lips as they speak, and listening to an accented oration by a person with a distinct speech pattern or whisper, are all very common triggers, amongst others. And for many, it's a combination of any of these triggers, and it gives a relaxing and unique tingling sensation, and a feeling of several senses coming together as one, like sight, sound, and touch.

How, when, and why?

There are a variety of theories and a lot of technical scientific jargon, but in laymens terms, while it somewhat unknown as to why, we do know there is also involvement with nerve endings, and how our brain processes not just information, but how it processes the senses like sight,sound and touch.

It can happen at any time, be it unintentional like in school or work, or invoked by the person, by watching/hearing/feeling the stimuli that triggers an episode. It's often seen in people with certain conditions like ADD, Aspergers Syndrome and other types of autism, or other brain/attention related conditions and syndromes. But, it can and does occur in any type of person, people who have none of these conditions. It just appears to occur more often in those with brain receptor-functioning conditions.

Not just a fad,more like an addiction

For many of us who experience ASMR, it's all about enjoying it. And now, there are a plethora of sites to go to,to get your fix. Youtube in particular happens to be my personal favorite. There is a whole subset of people who make and post "whisper videos", "ASMR videos", videos where the only purpose, is to relax, and enjoy the sensations the video stimuli creates for the viewer.

I can say, as someone who has suffered from insomnia for many, many years, ASMR stimulation is by far the best drug. I've used prescription sleep-aids, over the counter sleeps-aids, natural remedies and herbal supplements, everything! The prescription sleep-aids will knock you out, but at a cost. Odd side effects, potentially dangerous side effects, all accompany the drug-induced slumber. Over the counter sleep-aids can work, but with the nasty "groggy all day" side effect. And no natural or herbal treatment I've ever used, has done much for me at all. Hands down, logging on to Youtube, picking out some videos from my favorite "ASMR-ers" and "whisperers" I subscribe to, and in no time, it's snore central! And many of the comments you will see on these videos, are people touting the slumberous effects of the videos. It's almost like magic (a much-used tagline used by mainstream ASMR-ers). Many videos even post warnings, "do not watch while driving" (well duh!) and "do not watch when in situations where falling asleep could be detrimental". It works THAT well. Each one is different, and caters to a particular stimuli or "fetish" (not in a sexual way). There's a lot of Europeans that make these videos, mostly women, because most everyone has a love for the accents, it's a big trigger for many of us. Very soft-spoken, some called "whisper vids" or "soft-spoken vids". Many talk about absolutely nothing of significance, just talk about their day, or the new makeup they bought at the store that day. The content is not at all important for many. It's the soft voice, the way the speaker pronounces certain words, and the way they say certain letters, like P's, S's and T's. For many, you never see the speakers face, because for many it's believed it will take away from the sensation. Then there's the videos that cater to a very, very specific trigger. Many videos of a person simply handling a bag of noodles, just softly and slowly handling it for like a half hour (crinkles are a particular favorite trigger of mine). Or someone drawing a picture, tapping their nails, making hand motions, a whole ton of different triggers. There's those that cater to role-play triggers, and do videos where the person is giving an eye exam, or a makeover, a tutorial of some sort. This is another set of triggers that are very, very popular. And there's the videos where you see nothing more than the persons lips, extremely close to the camera, softly speaking or whispering, catering to those who have close personal space triggers.

There's also websites that cater to those who experience ASMR, and have lists and lists of stimuli people post, being their favorite stimuli, which is often shared by many others. It's fast becoming an echelon of people who FINALLY have others who understand the sensation they feel, and can relate and talk about it. It's often hard to explain to those who don't experience ASMR. It's something that others who have ASMR episodes, can understand and relate to, without explanation.

The best of the best

I personally have many triggers that most ASMR-experiencers have. European accents, particularly Russian and British are main starting point for me. "Moist" P's, and whistling S's are my very favorites. I like soft hand movements by a woman who has long fingers and manicured nails. I enjoy the role-play videos including eye-exams, other types of "doctors appointments", personal shoppers and tutorials are my go-to videos. I also like soft chewing sounds, crinkling bags, squeezing vinyl and the sounds of drawing on a hard surface with a pencil. Triggers can get very, very specific, and can seem very odd to many people, but they are very personal triggers for an individual, and there are THOUSANDS of videos catering to nearly every type of trigger you can imagine.

I do have my favorites. And many of my favorites are also the favorites of many ASMR-ers. The best ASMR video-makers, are usually ones that experience the phenomenon themselves, and understand the many triggers. The one that I feel is the very best is a young woman that goes by the Youtube name of "Gentle Whispering", her name is Maria. She is a favorite of many, many people with over 158,000 subscribers. She is a very pretty woman, of Ukrainian descent who speaks clear English, with a Russian accent that she can accentuate or tone-down depending upon the video. She has well manicured nails, and slight, beautiful hands. But best of all, she has a deep knowledge of ASMR and triggers that most enchant people. She isn't afraid to do whatever it takes for her fans to get their ASMR fix. She's very active in the ASMR community and is always applauding other video-makers for their talents. One of my very favorites is a video entitled; "Plush goodness review- ASMR" And here is a link to that very video;

Another favorite of mine in her repertoire is entitled; "Relaxing Towel folding tutorial, and is one of her very earliest videos;

Most people who experience ASMR watch the same videos time after time, never tiring of it, now matter how many times they've seen it. This is very much the case for myself, and I watch "Gentle Whispering" daily. However, I have other favorites as well, and my favorites are generally very popular in the community. These are a few of my other favorite videos by other ASMR-ers;

And my very favorite of all time;

There are many other excellent videos on youtube to satisfy your ASMR cravings, everyone has their own favorites and each person has their own triggers. There's no shortage of videos, and you can watch many different ones everyday and never see all of them.

Now go forth and relax

The ASMR community is growing by leaps and bounds. As more and more people are turned on this genre of videos, the need is being fulfilled and perfected by the women (and men) who create these wonderful videos. Many of these "ASMR artists" put a tremendous amount effort and time into creating their videos, and I'm so very thankful for that.

After a long, stressful day, it's hard to unwind. Keep the Xanax in the bathroom cabinet and watch some ASMR videos. And when you're lying awake at 3 am, tossing and turning, it seems you'll never fall asleep...pop on your headphones, bring your laptop into bed, and listen to the soothing sounds of the oh-so relaxing, all-natural sedative, known as ASMR. Believe me, you'll be thanking me in the morning!


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      AmberSmith 23 months ago

      Looks like your video got removed, Donna. But don't worry, I looked around a little bit and found something similar to yours

      That's from a really cool channel that has some other great ASMR videos. I think I might just post them while I'm here, they're all quite good ;)

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      Donna 2 years ago

      FINALLY I know that this phenomenon is called!! My friends always looked at me all weird when I tried to describe it. They most likely haven't ever experienced something like it and probably never will. I pity them, if I'm being honest. It really is an amazing feeling. I particularly react well to videos of a person crushing and crumpling tin foil. This is a good one, I think you might like it:

      And you are very right about it being more relaxing than taking sleeping pills for example. Why should I "poison" myself and get a nasty hangover when I can watch a video instead that gets me just as tired in now time? Not to mention how good it feels... mmmh :)