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What is ASMR?

Although the weather was positively beautiful today, Mondays always make me feel a little bit gloomy. While Monday morning dread is little more than a generic sentiment to the working public, I want to take things in a different direction.

Because Monday nights are the weeknight evenings when I’m most in need of meditation, relaxation and acceptance, they’re also the time when I’m most engaged in one of my favorite YouTube black holes—ASMR.

The textbook origin of the term is an acronym that stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. That sounds like quite the mouthful, but it’s honestly just a long-winded description of something that every human being knows very well: the tingles.

The tingles are at the heart of the ASMR experience.

Have you ever heard a song whose climactic moments feel like an electric pole being pressed against your spine? Have you ever been examined by a doctor or nurse in a quiet room with only the sound of the air conditioning and their gentle speech in your ears? Do you love the strange feeling you get when a cosmetologist washes your hair in one of those cool sinks?

At least one of these aforementioned scenarios may have resulted in that static-like tingling sensation on the skin that occurs near the top of your spine, up the base of your neck and to the crown of your scalp. That is ASMR at work.

It produces a kind of low-grade euphoria that makes your whole body feel relaxed and allows positive, affirming feelings to take the place of negative thought loops in your head.

It’s the perfect way to unwind after a particularly stressful day or when you just need some assistance calming your heart rate and thoughts enough to drift away into sleep.

Triggers

If you take the time to add the word “ASMR” to any type of sound you can think of in a YouTube search, chances are you’ll find a video to scratch your itch.

ASMR triggers come in all shapes and sizes, but these are some of the more common ones.

  • A whispered voice
  • Quiet, repetitive sounds like tapping, paper crinkling, or playing with beads
  • Quiet, mundane tasks that take great detail like cooking, folding laundry, or cleaning
  • Personal attention in the form of ear-to-ear audio and point-of-view videos

Personally, my favorite has always been mechanical keyboard typing with a whispered female voice. This includes travel agents, nurse, receptionist, and job interview roleplays. There’s something about whispered questionnaires, mouse clicks and mechanical keyboard typing that triggers me instantly.

What Causes the Sensation?

While little is known scientifically about the specifics of the ASMR experience, many people theorize that it might have something to do with our primate roots. Like many animals, primates experience a sort of euphoria when they’re being groomed or pet by another. Many of the experiences of the point-of-view ASMR videos play off of this effect, weaving in hair brushing, make up, and whispers in the ears to simulate the experience of extreme personal attention.

It could also have something to do with the way our mothers treated us as young children. Another common ASMR trigger for me is whispered book reading. It reminds me of being a little kid and listening to my mother read Dr. Seuss and Berenstein Bears books to me as I drifted into sleep.

Whatever the actual scientific and evolutionary cause, it feels amazing.

Some Great Examples of ASMR

I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t give credit where credit is due when it comes to falling hopelessly in love with the ASMR subculture. Here are a few of my favorite ASRM artists complete with links to their channels.

AmalZD: Great voice, unique videos, and an amazing sense of style

ASMRBebeXO: My favorite voice in the ASMR community and her videos are humble, but she’s very thankful and kind to her fans and always puts out quality videos.

Cosmic Tingles ASMR: The name says it all. She’s very new age and her videos are both creative and relaxing.

Springbok ASMR: She speaks to the nerd in me and has some fantastic roleplays. Her voice is one of the most soothing I’ve ever heard and she has some really awesome cats.

SavannahsVoice: The best close up whispers in the genre and her ramble videos have helped me fall asleep more times than I can count.

GentleWhispering: She’s the original innovator of YouTube’s ASMR scene and she’s still one of the best. Her laundry folding video is one of the most sublime audio experiences I’ve ever had.

Listen and Learn

There are so many more great channels out there, so I definitely suggest poking around and finding a few favorites of your own.

Grab a pair of nice headphones, lie down in a dark room, and let the soothing sounds and tingly tones take control of your brain and help you let go.

Sleep well, fam.

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