You either love it or don’t get it. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, is a rather strange phenomenon that became trendy these few years. ASMR is defined by ASMR University as something that evokes ‘light and pleasurable tingles, sparkles, fuzziness or waves of relaxation in the head, neck, spine and throughout the rest of the body’. Another term to describe ASMR is ‘brain massage’.
When I first heard about ASMR, I was not ready for what was to come. A quick search on YouTube resulted in millions of videos of just about anything and everything that can be turned into ASMR-related content – from eating sounds of fruits or fried chicken to cleaning of teeth. The best part? Most of these videos have chalked up millions of views.
In a nutshell, ASMR is about people whispering to you, amplifying their actions or motions in front of a microphone to elicit a trance-like response. I personally find it kooky and it gives me the chills, but strangely, I find myself going back for more from time to time. These auditory stimuli experienced is exactly the reason people find relaxing and therapeutic in ASMR videos.
Here’s an example of a video with mostly whispering, which has over 18 million views:
Triggers of ASMR
Almost everyone can experience that relaxed and tinging stimuli and it is just the matter of finding out your personal ASMR triggers. There are some triggers that create a stronger ASMR experience as compared to others, so don’t be too hard up if you don’t experience it on your first try. ASMR triggers can either be audible, physical or visual – we actually experience ASMR in real life as well as in movies or songs. Here is a list of some ASMR triggers that you can experiment for yourself.
Whispering is the most popular ASMR trigger and it can be found in almost all the ASMR-related videos on the web. Whispering triggers can be noiseless or unintelligible, which means you can’t actually hear the words so much that you are focused on the auditory experience instead. Sometimes, certain words or sounds are emphasized due to their particularly relaxing effect.
Okay, this may sound creepy and stalker-ish, but there are people who find these triggers to be most effective. Personal attention in ASMR videos refers to role-play scenarios where the creator concentrates on you, the viewer, while doing something personal. A typical example would be a hairdressing role play where he or she uses the hairbrush to comb their hair and speak (or whisper) to you while completing the action. Hey, we are not here to judge!
Scratching of the microphone and tapping on different surfaces are common triggers as well. Sounds from nails of ladies are usually linked with tapping or knocking as it creates a crisp and melodious rhythm for the listeners.
If you are a bookworm, this might probably be your most effective ASMR trigger. Turning the pages of a book produces a delicate sound that brings a sense of calmness to it, usually associated with an image of a library or a bookstore. Interestingly, hardcover and paperback books also offer a different soundscape.
Singaporeans love to eat and we are not surprised if eating-ASMR becomes a popular Singaporean trigger. This category is perhaps the most versatile in content and in itself branches out to the variety of food that can cause an ASMR trigger. From fruits like munching on apples and bananas to biting off chunks of Korean fried chicken, and even savouring our Singapore chilli crab produce a different sound. Take your time to find what is best for you.
How to experience ASMR
First of all, don’t expect too much. While some swear by it, there are many who can’t get into this odd phenomenon.
Find a quiet and relaxing environment like your bed and make yourself comfortable. Wear headphones to block out any ambient sound and watch the videos that offer the right trigger for you.
If you are new to this, or have not found your ASMR trigger, our advice is to give each trigger a go and don’t be too critical about it. Open your mind and clear your thoughts. After all, it is about your personal sensorial experience that matters.
Benefits of ASMR
As ASMR has been associated with feelings of great pleasure and calmness, this feeling is similar to what you might experience if you were meditating.
Feeling relaxed is the biggest advantage. It reduces stress levels and improves blood flow. Studies have shown that people who watched the ASMR videos had significant reduction in their heart rate. If you had a tiring day at work or school, consider pampering yourself with your favourite video!
If you are experiencing insomnia, why not try watching ASMR videos to get your perfect night’s sleep. It is important to get enough rest in order to start the following day bright and chirpy. When the body calms down and the brain activity slows down, there is a sense of comfort and being lulled to sleep.
If you are intrigued by the world of ASMR or simply finding the right trigger, remember that there are other methods of bringing you into that calm state such as meditation, yoga, and sound therapy, all of which have equally soothing and sleep-promoting benefits.