Your first experience with ASMR may have been a complete accident. You may have just been browsing Youtube when you end up at a video where someone is talking REALLY close to the microphone from one ear to the other. You don’t know what on earth is going on, but you do notice that it’s titled “ASMR” and it’s making you feel tingly all over.
So what is ASMR?
ASMR is roughly characterised by the tingling sensation that starts from your scalp and moves down your back through your spine. It’s not unlike being shocked by a mild electrical current, but instead of actual electricity, it’s a tingling sensation triggered by a wide variety of amplified sounds. Welcome to the weird, wide world of ASMR.
It’s More Than Just A Tingle
First of all, what does “ASMR” stand for? Originally coined in the early 2000s, the letters define:
- Autonomous: meaning “spontaneous”
- Sensory: meaning “experienced by the senses”
- Meridian: meaning “orgasm” (we’ll explain that one later)
- Response: self-explanatory
However, the actual term wasn’t coined until it managed to form its own online communities on Facebook and Reddit. It used to be called a lot of different things like “brain tingle,” “spine tingle,” or even “attention-induced head orgasm”.
So what is an ASMR video? It’s basically a performance by an ASMRtist that aims to induce that same tingly sensation. These videos usually involve relaxing atmospheric sounds or a sort of romantic role play. ASMR is extremely popular on Youtube: Cardi B has one video on it with 24 million views, and other ASMR-centric channels like MissChloeASMR, ASMRMagic, and SAS-ASMR have millions of subscribers between them.
It’s also important to distinguish binaural beats from ASMR. Binaural beats are audio that’s sent alternatively and simultaneously to your left and right ears. The two techniques aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s much more common to find ASMR videos using binaural audio than the other way around.
So Why Does ASMR Work The Way It Does?
It’s important to note that not everyone may experience ASMR. Some people have different reactions to the noises than others – while one person may find it somewhat strange; others find it a helpful tool for relaxation. The tingling sensation that ASMR brings hasn’t been fully studied yet, but it’s already being explored as another method of relaxation and rejuvenation therapy in massages and sleep clinics.
Now would also be a good time to explain the “orgasmic” part of ASMR. A lot of people usually report the sensation as something like “low-grade euphoria”. Listening to ASMR triggers a chemical reaction in our brains similar to the ones that we have after climax, which ties into how the phenomenon was named.
At the beginning of ASMR’s rise to popularity, people thought that the sexual connotations of the sensation caused by ASMR would lead to backlash. So they called it “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” as a more general-sounding term, and it’s kept that name since.
How To Experience ASMR For Yourself
The simplest way to experience ASMR would be to look up one of the many videos online. Getting a good pair of headphones is a must if you want to get the full experience, but any earphones will do in a pinch. Simply load up the video and listen.
Not everyone will experience ASMR the same way, and given the extreme variety when it comes with ASMR videos, you might find yourself finding a specific preference for a certain niche. The best way for you to find ASMRs that you might like is to think of sounds you enjoy and see if ASMR videos have been made about it. For example, maybe you like the sound of shuffling cards, or maybe the ambient noise of an exam room.
While the full effects of ASMR have yet to be medically verified, there’s already a lot of people that say it helps them sleep better at night, concentrate during work, or simply give them that lovely tingling sensation on demand. It may take some getting used to, but with a little research, you might just find an ASMR niche fall in love with.