ASMR – What is it?
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response.
This is usually experienced by feelings of tingles or something like static. It typically starts on the scalp and moves down the spine and upper back area. It can feel euphoric and can also be experienced as a soothing feeling. This is why it is used to help induce sleep. There is a genre of videos, many on YouTube, that translate this theory into practice. We see people whispering, tapping, crinkling and doing other ASMR-inducing actions on the screen.
What forms does it take?
There are varying theories and beliefs associated with ASMR but if you find that it works for you, then it’s a wonderful discovery.
There seems to be a body of understanding as to what invokes ASMR feelings. If you look at YouTube, or Amazon, you’ll find videos with gentle whispering, and other sensory elements like gentle tapping, rattling, smoothing, carving and even folding of towels and napkins. These are all sensory experiences and people find that they can trigger an ASMR response. If the response isn’t triggered, the gentle whispering is something very different in today’s noisy world. It can be very soothing and can make us feel like we are a baby again. Almost everyone has early experiences of soothing, soft voices and these can lull us off to sleep.
Can ASMR help me sleep?
It helps me sleep. It reassuring and affirming and it puts me in a sleepy state of mind. It feels safe, intimate and comforting.
If you’ve been a poor sleeper, as I have, you’ll be delighted to find something that might help. It gets very lonely and quite desperate in the small hours of the morning when everyone else seems to be sleeping soundly and restoring their bodies.
It is something very likely to work, but it’s something people need to try for themselves. I get the feeling that people will have very individual responses to ASMR and will need a process of ‘trial and error’ until they find what puts them to sleep.
I’ll be pitching it against all that my next international flight can throw at me too. Me and my headphones just might be invincible…
ASMR is a drug-free option. I’d certainly be trying it before I reach for sleeping pills which can have side effects.
Is it better than conventional sleep wisdom?
Maybe. Maybe not. It will probably be a very useful part of a ‘sleeping toolkit’ that you use for getting to sleep and sleeping well. There are times in our lives when we find getting to sleep and staying asleep are more difficult than other times.
When you are experiencing a bout of sleeplessness, anything that might work is very welcome. I think you’ll find that ASMR combined with other good sleep strategies, will empower you and give you the tools you need to get better sleep.
ASMR is a tool, and it’s something different and new. So if you are feeling that the same old techniques don’t work for you, ASMR might be just the thing to get you to sleep, and to break a pattern of sleeplessness that has developed for you.
What is some conventional sleep wisdom anyway?
- Calm or distract your inner chatter.
- Try some sleep meditation audios or videos.
- Keep a regular sleep time.
- Go through a soothing pre-bed routine.
- Black out the bedroom, or get yourself a sleep mask.
If I can’t get the ASMR response?
No big deal. Some of us get goosebumps from certain music, others don’t. Some songs do it for some and not others. It’s a similar thing.
There are two ways that ASMR might help you – with the tingling, head ‘orgasm’, or with the soothing, intimate personalized attention that you get from these videos.
Another way that it might help is that it gets you lying quietly in bed, wondering what all this is about and how you might respond. Guess what? Your mind isn’t on your problems. It isn’t thinking about losing sleep and how many hours of sleep you are missing. It isn’t feeling jealous of the other people out there who are sleeping restoratively. So, in that space, you might just fall asleep.
It’s a harmless thing that just might help, so it’s a good idea to give it a try if you think it might be something that will help you.
If you find some of the ASMR triggers annoying…
Just skip forward or move to another video.
I find some of them a little annoying, distracting or even uncomfortable. It’s a matter of finding the triggers that suit you.
If all else fails, just stick to whispering. Most people like that. If not, find something visual that you like. I have found one type of soap carving that I like a lot (slowly cutting the soap into slices) while the quicker jabbing at the soap to create shapes doesn’t feel so good for me. We are all individuals when it comes to ASMR.
Your One Mantra
To sleep better, research and use strategies.