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ASMR: Can It Really Help You Fall Asleep?

As I am writing this blog for the newsletter I am listening to this seductive voice of a woman whispering in my ear. Her voice is gentle, soothing, and is relaxing me. You may think it a little strange, but I am listening to this wondering if all the hype about ASMR is true or not. Of course I am not falling asleep, right now I cannot afford to. My boss may toss something into my cubicle, like a pink slip,  and someone else will be writing next week.

ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is still relatively new. It describes a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds.

What kind of visual or audio clips can create such a lovely feeling? It might surprise you, but the videos are of people doing incredibly simple, quiet, calming tasks, such as folding towels, brushing their hair, or flipping magazine pages. You might hear someone’s voice speaking in the background of the video, but not always. The audio clips often consist of voices whispering sweet things, or contain the sound of tapping, scratching, or rain.

I didn’t know that listening to certain sound to fall asleep had an official title, but it does. Before is was called ASMR this sensation was had various names such as : Attention Induced Head Orgasm, Attention Induced Euphoria, and Attention Induced Observant Euphoria.

How Does It Work?

According to the “ASMR University“:

The stimuli for ASMR (often called “triggers”) mostly fall into three main categories.

  • The first category is tactile stimuli and includes light touch, massage, hair touching, grooming, and physical examination.
  • The second category is visual stimuli and includes eye gazing and observing slow hand movements.
  • The third category is auditory stimuli and includes vocal types (eg soft, whispering, slow, gentle, increased pitch, caring, monotone), oral sounds (ie. mouth sounds, chewing, blowing), and object-related sounds (eg tapping, scratching, cutting, crinkling, caressing, handling).

ASMR stimuli usually have one or more of the following traits: repetitive, methodical, steady pace, steady volume, and/or non-threatening.

Triggers that stimulate ASMR in individuals may actually be activating the biological pathways of inter-personal bonding.  Examples of inter-personal bonding include parent and infant bonding, family member bonding, friendship bonding, and romantic partner bonding.

ASMR and bonding behaviors share similar triggers like gentle touches and soft voices between individuals that trust each other, and also have similar responses like feeling comforted, feeling relaxed, and feeling secure.

Some of the basic biology of bonding is well established and this involves specific behaviors which stimulate the release of endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.  These bonding behaviors and molecules may provide a good explanation for most of the triggers and responses associated with ASMR.

It all sounds good, no pun intended. I also understand some of the triggers. For example when I go to get my hair cut, the sensation of someone running their fingers through my hair while cutting has a deep hypnotic effect on me. I become very sleeping while sitting there. If you want to try ASMR you might be in for a very present surprise. You may become so relaxed that you fall asleep fast.

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