How Does ASMR Work? Explore ASMR YouTube Channel Recommendations and ASMR Sleep Tips
Ever had that strange tingling sensation when someone is quietly talking to you? Does the sound of someone plucking a comb, tapping their fingernails or brushing your hair make you float away?
As your eyes roll back into your head, you just want to fall asleep right where you are standing or sitting. That’s right, it’s that strange relaxing and body cloaking sensation just like you get when you watch those old Bob Ross videos, you know, where he’s painting a mountain landscape and he’s talking just to you.
That sensation is known as ASMR, or Autonomic Sensory Meridian Response. You might not be familiar with ASMR videos and the millions of people who watch them late at night, drifting off to the soothing whispers and triggers that popular YouTube artists create specifically to reduce anxiety, induce sleep, and promote relaxation. If you don’t know much about ASMR, let us explain.
ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is still a fairly new phenomenon to many, even though it’s been around a few years. It’s basically a sensation of euphoric tingling, a goose bump raising and soothing sensation that can come over someone when he or she watches hears certain sounds.
It might surprise you, but YouTube is where a lot of people gather at night with their devices in bed, to watch and listen to videos of artists, called ASMRtists, doing incredibly simple, quiet and calming tasks.
Typically, these videos involve quiet talking and soothing voices integrated with sounds which can range from hair brushing to finger tapping, to handling and fidgeting with nuts and bolts and mechanical objects. There may be a story line involved, or not, as the video simply meanders through a tapestry of random tingle inducing noise making.
The best ASMR videos, in this editor’s opinion, are those that have a nice little story line. A men’s suit fitting, dismantling a wrist watch, a simulated makeover and spa treatment, all designed to get you to float within minutes. Some of these videos are cute and reflect every day life, others transport you to a science fiction like realm, and my involve roleplaying by the artist as a surgeon, a fantasy figure, a crossdressing movie star, or a not so evil scientist. The menu reaches across every imaginable theme and subject. The biggest platform for ASMR videos and the most popular artists are almost exclusively found on YouTube, and therefore doesn’t contain any material that isn’t suitable for family or at least PG rated subject matter.
You might hear someone’s voice speaking in the background of the video, but not always. We’ll get to who we recommend for the best ASMR videos out there, hand chosen by our senior editor, who is a serious ASMR video enthusiast.
ASMR doesn’t work for absolutely everyone and it can be hard to understand the sensation if you have not experienced it first-hand. For most people who do experience it, the heavenly tingling sensations begins to coalesce on the scalp and then cascades through the body to the arms and legs. It is a bit like a static shock sensation, but enjoyable and pleasing as it washes over you.
As a result, the tingling sensation can trigger a feeling of complete relaxation before bedtime, which can help you fall, asleep, often within minutes, long before you finish a typical video.
The audio/video segments are generally fairly long, often lasting from 25 minutes to one hour in length, but with the average run time of about 30 minutes or so. The videos are just long enough to engage you, often encouraging you to “get comfortable” and then engaging you in a situation that subconsciously guides you through sleep induction and then drifting off.
There are a couple of ways that people can experience ASMR. You can experience it through simple meditation or just thinking about a scene or sound that pleases you. Ever found your self staring at something long enough so that your eyes drift out of focus? That’s ASMR. Do you have that friend or buddy whose voice calms you and brings you back down to earth? That’s ASMR as well.
The most popular and sought after way of experiencing tingles is by watching a video or listening to a recording, though videos offer the visual element that is woven into the audio side too, adding much more dimension.
Interestingly, some of the most popular videos (we’ll suggest our favorites below) have no spoken word in them at all. If you’re a dude, you know how mesmerizing a trip to the barber shop can be…guess what? That’s ASMR.
A YouTube channel called Salon NUMAN TV, which features a present day youthful Turkish barber making videos in his own full service barber shop, focuses on the sights and sounds of providing a shave and haircut, head massages, shampoos, and captures the various noises that are found in the barber shop.
The clicking of installing a fresh blade into his straight razor, the whooshing sound of his shampoo bowl, and the sound of his staccato like head massage noises done using his fingertips will easily make even the manliest of bearded, testosterone exuding bros nod off like a newborn baby.
As for the mechanisms at work behind ASMR, nobody is quite sure why some people react the way that they do, though there is a lot of research being done on the subject. It could be that the videos remind you of elating life experiences from your childhood, or that one simple sound that hypnotizes you and lulls you into a levitating state of mind.
ASMR Artists We Recommend