What is ASMR and How Can it be Therapeutic?
By: Clarice Stout, MA
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is known as a tingly like or static feeling that can be felt on the scalp and can move up and down the back of your neck and or upper spine. Some people do not always get that feeling with ASMR, but it may just also cause a heavy sense of relaxation. In ASMR this sensation comes in response from the gentle stimulus that ASMR has to offer, such as things like whispering voices, head rubs, paper tearing, tapping, and sometimes even eating noises. The best way I can describe the feeling that people get from ASMR videos is like a relaxation feeling when someone is really giving you a scalp massage, like when my grandmother or parents would help me sleep by rubbing my head gently until I fell asleep. All in all, people can get these feelings/sensations from many helpful ASMR videos on the internet.
Some people looking up ASMR videos may at first find it odd or strange, and there is really a lot of ASMR content out there, but it has helped many people find relaxation and has helped many people with sleep problems. In more recent research that I have read there was one study that even suggested that people who use ASMR videos regularly to help with their stress and sleep have found that it has improved individual’s mood and even some pain symptoms through the different triggers found in ASMR, again like whispering, personal attention, slow hand movements, and crisp sounds. For some, ASMR does not work and it can be hard to know what the sensation is if you have not experienced it first-hand, but even so people who do not get the tingly sensation on the scalp or neck can indeed still find ASMR soothing especially around bedtime.
Studies have shown that ASMR has helped a lot of insomnia sufferers by helping them fall asleep or become so relaxed that it is easier to help them fall asleep. Again, everyone is different and ASMR may not be for every person, but I have found that it can be very therapeutic for many individuals with anxiety, stress, sleep problems and even depression. ASMR can help with meditation and mindfulness and can be considered a self-care tool. There are many ASMR videos out there, which some are very different than others, so I would suggest maybe narrowing your search that might cater more to you, such as “ASMR for stress” or “ASMR for sleep”. For some people it may be funny or even weird, especially looking it up for the first time and seeing all the different creators and creations of ASMR, but it can be very therapeutic for a lot of people with different symptoms or even if you just need some relaxation time. ASMR has been around for a bit of time and it has continued to grow, and different studies have shown it to decrease stress, so all in all it can be a helpful tool!
Written by: CLARICE STOUT, MA, Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist 107743 under the supervision of Dr. Heredia, PsyD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 92394.