ASMR is still relatively new, but many people credit it with improving their sleep quality
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) has been making waves among sleep experts and sleep deprived individuals alike, despite being a fairly new concept. Search YouTube or Instagram for videos labelled ASMR and you’ll find thousands of results, some with thousands or even millions of views. It seems people can’t get enough of the latest sleep solution.
But what exactly is ASMR, and can it really help you fall asleep faster and experience a better quality of sleep overall?
What is ASMR?
ASMR describes a feeling of tingling and relaxation triggered by watching certain videos or hearing certain sounds. The sounds and actions carried out in these videos are surprisingly simple, but aim to create a quiet and calming atmosphere. These actions might include flipping pages in a book, running fingers along hairbrush bristles or folding towels, along with sounds like tapping, scratching and gently falling rain. Sometimes you might hear people talking (usually very quiet whispering of soothing phrases like ‘you are appreciated’) but not always.
The tingling sensation created by ASMR is usually gained via videos and audio recordings, but some people can experience it through meditation or just thinking about a sound or action that pleases them.
Does it work?
ASMR doesn’t work for everyone, and research surrounding it is still fairly limited. One study by Swansea University theorizes that the sensation is linked to similar gene activity surrounding conditions like synaesthesia, where one sensory experience is accompanied by another (like listening to a certain song and seeing a particular shade of green, or looking at a certain view and tasting strawberries). Another study reveals that 60% of people say ASMR makes them feel “sleepy” and that there is some correlation between experiencing ASMR and signs of relaxation like “decreased heart rate and slower breathing rate.”
Dr Berit Brogaard of Psychology Today suggests that ASMR could be linked to meditation, which slows down our brain waves to help shut down the flow of stress chemicals in the body. Others have suggested that ASMR is linked to nostalgia, as the simple actions and phrases are reminiscent of carefree childhood days. Research in New Scientist also found that it is possible to develop a tolerance to ASMR, but that abstaining from ASMR videos for a week or two usually causes the effect to return.
Although research on the subject of ASMR is new, many people swear by the effect as a way of beating insomnia and improving sleep quality. If you find that ASMR is not effective for you however, there are other ways to boost your sleep health.
How else can you improve your sleep quality?
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can significantly improve how well you sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends) will help to regulate your body clock and help you fall asleep faster. A relaxing bed time ritual will help boost this effect, so try to avoid activities which cause excitement, stress or anxiety before bed. Looking at bright screens will hinder your body’s production of vital sleep hormones like melatonin, so try to avoid your phone for around an hour before you fall asleep.
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary that’s designed for sleep, so make sure you’re happy that your design choices are doing the most to improve your sleep quality. Keep your room at a cool temperature and consider blackout blinds to stop any light from disturbing you. You should also ensure you’re sleeping on a comfortable mattress that provides the best support for your body.