To explore whether you respond to autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) stimuli, and to start enjoying ASMR videos if you do, all you need is a device that provides online access — such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone — and a quiet, comfortable place to relax.
If you come to enjoy ASMR videos and are visiting ASMR sites often, you may want to obtain some good audio equipment to enhance your experience of the taps, crinkles, and whispers. Still, as one AMSR blogger, named Myolie, who reviews equipment, wrote, “One important thing [to remember] for having a good ASMR experience is to listen to the sounds with a peaceful mind under a quiet environment.”
Here are some ideas for creating the right environment, and resources for learning about the science behind the sensation.
Are Your Headphones up for ASMR?
Many ASMR triggers are soft sounds, such as crinkling, gentle tapping, chewing, bubbles bursting, and whispering. The equipment chosen by the "ASMRtists" to capture these physical vibrations affects the sound quality. Likewise, the equipment that you as a listener use when seeking an ASMR experience can affect the pleasure you will derive.
But as Myolie explained in a post on the site Best ASMR, there are no “best headphones” for ASMR, only equipment that works best to meet your needs. There are three kinds of headphones: in ear, on ear, and over ear. This post clearly presents information on how the different types compare in terms of clarity, portability, comfort, cost, and other important factors.
To Really Relax, Dive Into Real Darkness
Nowadays, light intrudes on us round the clock, but dark and quiet are key ingredients for deep relaxation, according to James Maas, PhD, one of the world’s leading sleep experts, in his book Power Sleep.
To help ASMR foster the relaxed state you desire, get some blackout curtains for the room where you enjoy the videos, or try wearing eyeshades to enhance the ease with which you slip into the pleasure zone.
Popular Coverage of ASMR
As long as human have existed, people have relaxed in response to peaceful, pleasing sights, sounds, and sensations. ASMR has emerged as a new concept in this arena, but it is quickly entering the wider public’s awareness.
Perhaps nothing attests more strongly to the rising star of ASMR than the fact that Michelob ran a trigger-rich commercial starring Zoë Kravitz during the 2019 Super Bowl. She is shown whispering the beer’s praises, and records the sounds of the bottle scratchily sliding across a table, of her nails tapping its sides, and of the fizzle as she pops the cap and pours a tempting glassful.
Media-generated steam boosting awareness of ASMR has been building for some time. Consider the following articles in popular magazines and newspapers:
- “What Is ASMR and Why Are People Watching These Videos?” Psychology Today, by John Cline, September 2018. This story explores the rapid boom in interest in ASMR and what ASMR might offer. “Some entrepreneurs are trying to move the experience into the physical world by offering live [ASMR] sessions,” Cline notes. These real-world sessions involve clients filling out pre-session questionnaires to find out which stimuli work best for that person.
- “Annals of Obsession: The Mysterious Tingles of ASMR,” The New Yorker, May 2018. This video includes musings by a Yale neuroscientist about the possible physiological bases for the ASMR tingles. The ASMR superstar Maria of Gentle Whispering shares her own sense of why ASMR means so much to so many.
- “A Whisper, Then Tingles, Then 87 Million YouTube Views: Meet the Star of ASMR,” Washington Post, by Caitlin Gibson, December 2014. The ASMRtist Maria takes center stage in this story. A Russian immigrant now living in Maryland, she posted her first ASMR video in 2011, showing herself leafing through a magazine and fiddling with seashells.
Science Is Weighing In on ASMR, Too
Research scientists have also started to explore how and why ASMR works. The physiological underpinnings of ASMR remain unclear. However, science is showing that for its many fans, ASMR really does induce a state that is both relaxed and somewhat aroused as well, though generally not in a sexual sense.
The scientific literature on ASMR is not large. Here are some key studies:
- “More Than a Feeling: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) Is Characterized by Reliable Changes in Affect and Physiology,” PLoS One, by Poerio, Blakey, Hostler, and Veltri, June 2018. First, this study showed that ASMR has real measurable effects on the body. ASMR both slows the heart rate and changes the skin’s ability to conduct electricity. Second, the study demonstrated that ASMR only produces pleasant feelings in people who experience ASMR, but not in others. “Hundreds of thousands of people report that [ASMR] videos help them relax,” the authors wrote. Their results support the idea that the videos can have real therapeutic benefits for those who experience ASMR, in terms of stress reduction and relaxation.
- “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): A Flow-Like Mental State,” PeerJ, by Barratt and Davis, March 2015. This study identifies some common triggers for ASMR, such as whispering, personal attention, crisp sounds, and slow movements. It also shows that ASMR provides temporary relief for people suffering from depression and chronic pain.
Help the ASMR Work Its Relaxing Magic
If you use ASMR to help you sleep, remember that your routine during your waking hours also matters a lot in this realm. “Oftentimes the sleeplessness that plagues us by night is a function of the choices we make during the day,” says Dr. Maas.
“Whether through habits we hold or routines we fail to hold, the potential for a great night’s sleep begins the moment we wake,” he says. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or feeling energetic when you wake up, these resources might help:
- 10 Things You Can Do While the Sun Is up to Help You Sleep Better When the Sun Goes Down
- 12 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep