What is ASMR?

ASMR has helped me more than I can explain. From sleepless nights, stressful evenings and just times needing to chill, ASMR has been able to provide me with the much needed relaxation. For some people ASMR is great, it’s able to help them sleep better, perhaps works well as background noise while they’re working or studying and even helps calm them down for stressful situations. For those that don’t experience ASMR though it can be a very confusing and slightly odd thing for people to become obsessed with.

The technical term for ASMR is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s still a largely unknown area because of the personal nature of the experiences, the recentness of its popularity and it being difficult to measure.

Search ASMR on YouTube and you will come up with a whole host of videos that you may not understand. People tapping on boxes, dentists whispering to you, people offering to do your makeup. It’s odd if you don’t know why you’re watching it. You’re watching it for the “tingles”. The tingles that usually occur in the upper back, neck or head region. These tingles are brought out through various “triggers” (the box tapping, whispering etc) and so finding out if/what your triggers are is the first important thing. You may remember back to being at school when somebody asked to borrow something and seeing them using it sent tingles up your spine. You may even remember hearing the sounds of scratching pens and pencils making you feel more relaxed than on edge. It’s different for each person and the best thing I can suggest if you think you may have ASMR or want to experience it is to look around for your triggers.

Personally I use ASMR as relaxation and comfort. I like the whispering videos because they feel close and intimate and it’s not something I get in every day life. The key ones for me are the sound videos. Tapping boxes, iPads, tables, glasses, bottles, etc. They all make different noises and for me they all elicit a sort of positive response in my body that makes listening to them enjoyable. Some videos I didn’t think I would ever like – for example mouth sound videos – because I can’t stand the sound of them in everyday life but the idea of having control over when you hear it is actually quite a nice feeling too.

One common misconception is that ASMR brings out sexual feelings when listening to it, and so people who don’t understand sometimes view it as slightly pornographic or “dirty”. It’s not. Most people have no sexual response to ASMR and it is in fact just a generic pleasurable feeling rather than anything linked directly to sexuality. Some ASMRtists (the accepted name for somebody who makes ASMR videos) do use sexuality to encourage views of their videos but this isn’t to be confused with the response people feel from it.

I know of people who use ASMR to help calm them down before scary encounters. For some a dentist roleplay might seem bizarre but having a comforting and relaxing voice talking you through things is nice if you’re a bit nervous about your upcoming trip to the dentist.

ASMR is fully utilised with headphones because the sound is so close that you can hear every little movement. It’s also beneficial because sometimes ASMRtists can make it feel like they are talking into a specific ear (like somebody sitting next to you and whispering into your right ear).

The other great thing about ASMR is the community. I have never experienced such a friendly community. People watch these videos to relax and feel comforted, people make the videos to help and give back to people. Most videos I have watched have very few if any negative comments and sometimes people even offer constructive feedback about how to better enjoy a sound if you find something isn’t working for you. It is possibly one of the friendliest communities I have come across.

But where do I start? This video is probably the best suggestion I can give you if you’re curious. It was the video I started with and some amazing effort has gone into making it. It includes a wide variety of triggers so perhaps skim that video and see if anything triggers you.

Some of my favourite ASMRtists:

Fairy Char ASMR

Mr Meridian ASMR

Sebastian ASMR

The ASMR Gamer

Fred’s Voice ASMR

These are just a few ASMRtists out there. It’s important to find one that you’re comfortable watching. Some have a preference over the gender of their ASMRtists and some just like the sounds. It is entirely subjective and you should be able to explore and actively participate in the community as much as you would like to.


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