ASMR has grown in popularity rapidly over the last couple of years, but so have its detractors. It’s a contentious subject if you look at it with too sceptical an eye.
So, it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which basically means you get tingles on the back of your head, sometimes down your arms, back, legs; even all over tingles.
We’ve all got experiences of it, my earliest memories are of being in primary school and sitting on the floor in front of the teacher and one of the girls behind me playing with my hair! (I had ridiculously long hair back then, it was impossible not to touch.) Maybe you’ve had a similar experience; at a hairdressers, getting a massage, eye test… the list goes on.
Essentially it seems to be brought on by personal attention, which is something that many of us are lacking in our hectic lives nowadays, so it can be a real treat to have someone take care of you. But really, how many of us can afford either the time or the money to get a facial everyday? Hardly any of us. That’s where the magic of YouTube comes in. There are quite literally thousands of ASMRtists on YT who in my entirely biased opinion are divine creatures spending their time trying to make little old ME feel better when I can’t sleep or I’m stressing out.
This brings us to the divisive part… these are real people who are talking softly to a video camera as if it were a real person. It goes further if you look for the spa treatments, Cranial Nerve Examinations, dental visits, and best friend sleep aids. They all use a variety of microphones which are binaural so it replicates your own ears, and while wearing headphones you really feel they are speaking directly into your ear. It’s this close, personal attention that helps to bring on the tingles – you genuinely feel you are in the same room as them.
Now, I would ask everyone who is unconvinced, please suspend your disbelief, buy into it just for a 40 minute session (with really good quality and comfortable headphones) and use your imagination a little… you’ll see a difference.
Maybe, maybe not. Some people have their minds firmly made up. Some people aren’t able to experience ASMR at all but I’ll use this moment to bring my point back to why I got into these videos in the first place.
I’ve been an insomniac for almost all of my adult life, from about 16 onward everything was a struggle related to sleep. I’d be unable to get up in the morning, be late for school despite living a 10 minute walk away, and generally feel crappy and crabby all day long. Then at night, instead of feeling tired enough to go to bed early after a whole long day of feeling tired, I couldn’t sleep. Thus began my routine of staying up late until I felt tired enough to go to sleep. This continued for many, many years.
It got to breaking point when I started university and had a full class load, noisy flatmates, and working 25 hours a week. Despite going back and forth to doctors, they insisted there was little they could do to help and tried some ‘strong antihistamines’ but gave me barely enough to really see if they worked. I tried Kalms, I tried herbal teas, I tried sorting my ‘sleep hygiene’ which I think is crap, presumptuous, and certainly of little use while living in a dorm or student accommodation (the bedroom is only for sleeping – no my bedroom is my everything). There is still a wide nonacceptance of listening to people with insomnia, my phrase was always “I’ve lost my sleepy”, I could feel like shit all day long from exhaustion, but still not be able to sleep AT ALL, not even a nap!
Second year at uni didn’t improve my sleeping habits much as my bedroom was on a main road and I’d sometimes stay up until it was quiet enough to sleep, but invariably there’d be just enough passing traffic to keep waking me up. It was around this time that I turned to YT for chill out videos, guided meditations, relaxing music which worked a bit for a time. However, lack of sleep leads to so many issues including for me, ear, nose, and throat issues so it stopped being as prudent to sleep with headphones in.
Fast forward a year and a bit, I was living in Spain in student accommodation again, and I swear Spaniards don’t sleep! All the apartments had metal staircases which were noisier than you’d believe and all the beds were squeaky metal frames. There was always some noise from somewhere.
That’s when I discovered ASMR.
I’ll even show you the exact video I first watched: My First ASMR
It’s by an ASMRtist called Olivia Kissper. She had only just uploaded maybe a couple of days before I stumbled across the video and it changed everything for me. Two and a half years later and I still listen to an ASMR video every night to help me sleep! (It’s also why I crack up if I don’t have a WIFI signal where I’m staying!)
I will eventually do a top list of my favourite ASMRtists and some videos which have helped me, I just wanted to post about WHY I enjoy ASMR and how I feel it has helped me.
I’ve listened to videos even while studying, writing, or working just to help me chill and focus on what I’m doing… they’ve even helped get rid of tension headaches too.
I understand that not everyone will be convinced, and that’s perfectly fine too, I just ask that you respect other people’s enjoyment of ASMR. I haven’t been asked to write this post and I’m not sponsored by anyone in the ASMR community, I’m just a long-time listener who wanted to share this with others who might be feeling the strain of insomnia too.
Ciao for now,