What Is ASMR And Why Are People Watching It?

Iryna Dubenska

Products Reviewer


I entered the letters “ASMR” into the YouTube search bar. A lot of videos came up, some with a lot of views. One had over 15 million. I clicked on the first video and saw something like this: A young woman sits at the 3Dio microphone, which she lightly taps several times, resulting in the sound of the microphone testing to make sure it works. She takes a brush and starts brushing her hair and in a barely audible voice, moving toward the microphone, then away from it, and then back and forth from left to right, she says:

“Hello. (Very quietly and with a gasp.) Are you ready to relax and gently prepare for bed? Some slow, light brush sounds can help you relax. As long as you are relaxed, I will take care of you. There’s nothing to do but listen and relax.”

This videos are very popular and can help some people with insomnia.

What Is ASMR?

The term ASMR was coined by Jennifer Allen.The letters stand for autonomous sensory meridian response, and it “describes a tingling sensation in the top of the head in response to a number of audiovisual triggers, such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements” (Poerio, Blakey, Hostler , & Veltri, 2018). The Wikipedia entry on ASMR defines it as “…a term used for an experience characterized by a static or tingling sensation on the skin that usually begins on the skin of the skull and extends down the back of the neck and upper spine.”


Understanding The name “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” was coined in the mid-2000s by an enthusiast who hoped that a clinically sound name would give legitimacy to what was then considered a niche experience. In the years since then, ASMR has become a popular Internet phenomenon, inspiring millions of YouTube videos and countless devotional blogs, but it has yet to be widely adopted in the field of psychology.
Recently, however, researchers have begun to investigate whether the phenomenon has any scientific basis. So far, some preliminary studies suggest that ASMR may help with insomnia symptoms ; other small studies suggest that those who experience ASMR may have subtle brain differences from those who do not. These results need to be replicated in larger, more rigorous studies, but they have begun to provide clinical evidence for what was once purely anecdotal.

What Is ASMR

What Triggers ASMR?

Those who experience ASMR say the sensation is triggered by soft sounds, such as whispering, or repetitive visuals, such as folding towels-essentially a set of seemingly ordinary sights and sounds. ASMR can also be triggered by physical contact, such as a massage or haircut.

What Does It Look Like?

ASMR is an interesting combination of excitement and relaxation. Some describe it as tingling, chills, or waves that travel down the head, neck, and spine, and the physical sensation is accompanied by feelings of happiness, calmness, or sleepiness.

Can I Learn To Use It?

There are no studies yet demonstrating that people can or cannot develop ASMR. However, this seems unlikely because ASMR is an involuntary physiological response similar to synesthesia that cannot be practiced or learned. If you can’t achieve this effect, try watching and, most importantly, listening to ASMR videos with good headphones.

In a series of studies by Poerio, Blakey, Hostler, and Veltri (2018), they found that watching ASMR videos only increased positive emotional states in people who experience ASMR. They also found that ASMR was reliably associated with physiological markers, including decreased heart rate and increased skin conductance. They found that people who experienced ASMR, in particular, responded to tingling and increased calmness, for example, only to ASMR videos and not to control videos. Rresponders showed significantly reduced heart rate and significantly increased skin conductance in response to ASMR videos compared to videos without ASMR.

ASMR Videos Are The Biggest YouTube Trend You’ve Never Heard Of

It is a massive and growing trend. In fact, an ASMR search on YouTube generates more interest than searches for “candy” or “chocolate. Chances are, you’ve never heard of it. In fact, the most popular question about ASMR on Google is, “What is ASMR?”


Not all people perceive ASMR the same way. Everyone has different triggers. In other words, People enjoy different sounds and actions.
Your social media feeds are probably full of people talking about their favorite triggers. YouTube is loaded with video bloggers trying to find a sound that will put them in a state of bliss. Here are a few examples of what people get high from.

  • Whispering. One of the most common triggers of ASMR, a gentle whisper can induce feelings of calm and relaxation, like recent learning. Some say the simple sound of someone whispering slowly into a microphone can also help with sleep problems.
  • Breathing. Breathing creates an effect similar to whispering. This popular ASMR trigger, which resembles a light breeze, can help you get a good night’s sleep.
  • Scratches. Scratching can be a bit of a controversial ASMR trigger. Even though it’s popular, it can set some people up wrong. But if you like the sound of someone scratching metal, plastic, or even fingernails right on the mic, you’re more likely to experience a tingling, soothing sensation. Sometimes you may even get excited.
  • Tapping. Tapping is similar to the ASMR triggers above. It usually involves the sound of nails tapping on various surfaces, including glass and wood, and promotes relaxation.

more of triggers

  • Page turning. Repetitive sounds are among the top five most popular triggers, according to one 2015 study. Page turning certainly falls into this category. The soft rustles made by newspapers, magazines and books have been reported to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and leave you very calm.
  • Writing. Writing can cause intense tingling . Some say they can also put a person to sleep.ASMR video makers often choose one of two tools: pens that make a scratchy sound or softer pencils.
  • Text typing. ASMR typing can either send you to sleep or help you focus . Often different keyboards are used to create different sounds. Acrylic nails can enhance the feeling.
  • Wrinkling. Like flipping pages, the sound of paper or plastic rustling can cause relaxation and relieve stress.
  • Нumming. Some people are annoyed by the humming of a person . For others, it acts as a nightly lullaby. You will need to figure out which side of the fence you fall on.
  • Buzzing. Buzzing triggers are usually created by electrical objects such as razors. Some of these vibrating sounds can be mild enough to have a calming effect. Others are a little more aggressive. Of course, some people still find it relaxing.

more of triggers

  • Chewing. When it comes to chewing ASMR videos, you either love them or hate them. There is some crossover between this trigger and the Korean concept of mukbang : an interactive food experience where the eater films himself consuming large amounts of food, and the audience reacts. But ASMR eating focuses more on the sounds that come from someone’s mouth, whether they are loud and crunchy or soft and squelchy.
  • Licky fingers. A soft tone that is often pleasant to listen to, the ASMR of sticky fingers is exactly what it sounds like. People either put their fingers on sticky objects like duct tape or use a substance like honey to “stick” their fingers to the microphone.
  • Water drops. Whether it’s a simple drip or a hiss, the natural sound of water can be incredibly relaxing. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation , it can even improve sleep quality if left on all night.
  • Ticking Clock. The repetition of a ticking clock sounds pretty natural to the brain. If you need help sleeping or studying, it can be an ASMR trigger for you.
  • Motor humming. Listening to a humming car engine can be soothing to some people and highly annoying to others. It’s all about personal choice.
  • Cat purr. Cat purr is a strangely soothing sound. Because of its ability to relax and induce pleasant sleep, it is one of the cutest triggers of ASMR.

Can it be arousal and passionate?

It depends on the person. While some people may not find any of the above triggers exciting, others find certain sounds and visuals erotic.
Most ASMR youtubers do not create their videos with thoughts of passion, but this feeling when watching is not abnormal.
In a 2015 study of 475 people, 5 percent of respondents reported watching ASMR videos for arousal stimulation.
A second study published in Empirical Musicology Review , found that arousal is a common feeling of ASMR.

But we mustn’t forget that some people don’t enjoy it at all. Many people even find it annoying.


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Barratt, E.L., & Davis, N.J. (2015). Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state. PeerJ, 3, e851

Lloyd, J. V., Ashdown, T. P. O., & Jawad, L. R. (2017). Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response: What is It? and Why Should We Care? Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 39(2), 214–215. 

Poerio G.L., Blakey E., Hostler T.J., & Veltri T., (2018). More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology. PLOS ONE 13(6): e0196645.

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