What is ASMR? What to Know About the Viral Trend

Article posted in: Lifestyle
woman doing ASMR into a microphone

Social media has been buzzing lately about a new way people have discovered for relieving stress, anxiety and more. It’s called ASMR, and it is the subject of thousands of videos on YouTube and chat group discussions.

ASMR is the scientific description of how our bodies may react to certain sounds or movements. No one can say for certain yet what its potential value is, but AMSR is fun and fascinating, and it may have real health benefits for weight loss. Here’s what you need to know.

What is ASMR?

crumpling paper ASMR into a microphone

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It is the cause of the tingling sensation in the body that occurs in response to a variety of triggers. People who have experienced ASMR describe it as starting in the head, neck and spine, and it can sometimes move to the arms and legs.

This tingling is different from the “chills” or “goose bumps” that you might feel in an emotional moment. “Chills” tend to happen all over, and at once. ASMR often occurs in waves or pulses. After ASMR, people tend to feel calmer and often sleepy.

ASMR is not a brand-new phenomenon. Many people have experienced it without being aware of what’s happening or having a name for it. ASMR can be caused by getting your hair brushed or cut, or while watching someone concentrate on a task such as folding towels. Now that ASMR is more widely recognized, people are trying out ways to make it happen for themselves.

How does ASMR work?

bubble wrap ASMR

Not everybody experiences ASMR and among those who do, the triggers can vary.  The most common stimuli tend to be quiet, repetitive movements and sounds. Water flowing or dripping, crunching leaves, and listening to another person whisper are a few examples.

So, why do people like ASMR? Exposure to the triggers activates areas of the brain that produce the tingling. Some scientists theorize that the brain is releasing “feel-good” hormones such as dopamine during the experience.

When the trigger stops, the sensation typically ends, too. Afterward, most people report feeling calmer and even sleepy. A study at the University of Sheffield (in the U.K.) found that test subjects’ heart rates were reduced while watching ASMR videos and they reported positive emotions, “including relaxation and feelings of social connection.”

People who live with chronic pain may find relief with ASMR, according to a report in the Peer Journal. A team of researchers found that there is “a significant difference in chronic pain symptoms before and during ASMR, a difference which was maintained three hours following ASMR.”

The study concludes, “Given the reported benefits of ASMR in improving mood and pain symptoms, we suggest that ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure similar to that of meditation and mindfulness.”

What Are ASMR Videos?

making sand ASMR video

While ASMR is not new, what has emerged are thousands of online videos that are designed for people seeking the experience. In these videos, you typically see close-ups of repeated movements and hear sounds such as crinkling plastic, brushing hair or fabric, water splashing, and people whispering or gently chewing.

Many of the videos are crafted for people who want help in falling asleep, but you can find those that are meant for calming anxiety or just to trigger the tingles. Search “ASMR sleep” or “ASMR relaxation” and you’ll get a lot of options to pick from to see if they work for you.

If you have a partner, you can try out the techniques on each other in real time rather than just watching a video. Brushing hair and scalp massage are simple ways to get started.

Can ASMR Help Weight Loss?

ASMR sand

Stress and not sleeping enough, which often go hand in hand, are two common causes of unhealthy eating choices. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to choose foods high in calories, fats and sugar. If you don’t get enough sleep, the hormones that regulate your appetites are disrupted, making it harder to stick with your diet.

ASMR seems to help many people to feel calmer and fall asleep easier. It just might be a tool you can use to stay healthy and on track to your weight loss goal.