ASMR Facts: What Is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response?

Posted by , Updated on October 20, 2023

You need some tingly ASMR facts you can fall asleep to. This phenomenon called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a big deal on YouTube! It only makes sense. You’re stressed, can’t sleep, and filling your head with warm tingles is your magical key into dreamland. Then again, you might also be new to this whole thing. You’re siting there thinking, what the heck is ASMR? Allow me to help you out.

It’s the latest sensation sweeping YouTube and the internet at large. YouTubers create videos intended to relax viewers and help them fall asleep. They use every calming technique in the book, including a variety of sounds, visual triggers, supported by impressive binaural microphones. It might sound weird, but it’s surprisingly effective and has reached a mainstream audience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t potential dangers lying in wait, though (stick around and you’ll see what I mean).

Still confused about ASMR? The fact is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned ASMRer or new to the whole thing, there’s something for everyone with these tingly ASMR facts you can fall asleep to.





The ASMR phenomenon didn’t happen over night. As YouTube videos grew in popularity, internet dwellers claimed to experience tingles with certain videos. It remained a fringe corner of the internet for years until becoming more popular over time with YouTubers making videos directed at those who experience tingles.




Tingly sensations, of course, are not a new feeling, but the term “ASMR” was coined by Jennifer Allen. She created the first ASMR Facebook group in 2010 and since then, the name stuck. She’s been heavily active in ASMR and continues to be a big part of the community, overall.


The Feeling


Called “head tingles,” “brain tingles,” or “brain orgasm,” people describe the feeling of ASMR as pleasant, warm, and pleasurable tingles over your scalp and the back of your neck. It’s primarily a relaxing sensation and is considered a totally unique experience from anything else.



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YouTubers who create videos specifically for ASMR are called “ASMRtists.” Initially, like most things on YouTube, they did it for fun and to be part of a shared community. Now that it’s widely popular, some ASMRtists like “Gentle Whispering ASMR,” make a living off their videos, raking in six-figure incomes.

Here’s an example. 




Not everyone experiences it. Those who do are called “ASMR-capable.” No one really knows how many people fit in this category. One early psychological study found a link to certain personality traits. ASMR-capable people scored higher on Openness to Experiences and Neuroticism and lower on the Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness sections of the Big Five Inventory scale.




The opposite of ASMR is misophonia, the unpleasant feeling you might get when hearing nails scratching against a chalkboard. Much like ASMR, it’s triggered from an oral sound, like tongue clicking, breathing, and chewing. Except, rather than relaxing you, it’s repulsive and gives you “bad tingles.”




Through experimentation and community feedback, ASMRtists have developed a wide variety of triggers. Tongue clicking, tapping, mouth sounds, eating sounds, whispering are just the tip of the iceberg. Not all triggers are created equal with many ASMRtists better at them than others. It’s also highly subjective. Two people could experience the triggers in very different ways.


It's not sexual


Many ASMRtists insist ASMR is not sexual. They consider it a calming experience similar to prayer, meditation, or a natural high. For them, it’s not intended to be arousing but relaxing.


It also is sexual

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That doesn’t stop people from sexualizing ASMR. Like it or not, there are several ASMRtists on YouTube producing more adult content in the community. This type of ASMR lead those outside the community to believe ASMR is for flirtation and a sexual experience.



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With ASMR having a cultural moment and being a huge sensation, marketers have wasted little time making it work for them. More advertisements and magazines have hopped on the ASMR bandwagon, purposefully including ASMR triggers. W Magazine has an entire video series of ASMR videos featuring celebrities like Kate Hudson.


Bob Ross

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Unintentionally, Bob Ross, the painter on PBS in the ’80s and ’90s, also became a bit of an ASMR YouTube star. Many have even gone as far as calling him the Godfather of ASMR. His deep, calming voice and relaxed presence is said to be very triggering.


Lower Heart Rate

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Since it provides a calming effect, it should be no surprise ASMR has potential health benefits. An early, peer-reviewed study found ASMR reduces your heart rate and have other potentially beneficial mental and physical health benefits.



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Visual triggers can be just as powerful as audio triggers.  A common and popular type of ASMR video is roleplay. YouTubers will act out various situations, including haircut appointments, doctor visits, Harry Potter based roleplays, science fiction roleplays, not to mention plenty of experimental and bizarre roleplays.

Here’s an example.


Insomnia and Anxiety

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People who struggle with insomnia, anxiety, and depression have flocked to ASMR videos to help them alleviate their symptoms. It’s just another big reason why its become popular. What’s better, few think ASMR has any potentially dangerous effects since it’s similar to meditation or yoga. So, it might be a natural way to help people fall asleep or treat their anxiety. Unfortunately, few studies exist on the topic and the science is only getting started.


MRI Scans


That’s not to say studies haven’t been done. We’ve already mentioned a few. One study at the University of Winnipeg used an fMRI machine with two groups of people, one group that experiences ASMR and another that doesn’t. The study hypothesized from the results that ASMR-capable people may have “reduced ability to inhibit sensory-emotional experiences that are suppressed in most individuals.” In other words, ASMR probably isn’t a disorder but a special way for some people to experience relaxation.


ASMR Immunity

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While some can continue to experience ASMR on the regular, many others have said it has stopped for them. This phenomenon has been called “ASMR Immunity,” when an ASMRer can no longer experience tingles. No one knows why this happens. Many ASMRtists put up videos specifically for this problem, trying to “cure” people of their immunity.


The jury is still out


The science behind all of it is still in its infancy. Not everyone is on board with the topic, either, thinking it’s not a real sensation that deserves serious study. Still, other researchers remain optimistic more studies will be done to investigate it and perhaps form a legitimate science around it.

Want more great information on how to stay relaxed? Definitely check out 25 Motivational Thoughts To Keep You Calm On Stressful Days. Your brain will thank you.

Photo: Featured Image - Shutterstock, 1. Tom Hilton, Shrug, CC BY 2.0, 2. (Public Domain), 3. Ptrump16, Siemens Magnetom Aera MRI scanner, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 4. shutterstock, 5. Life As Young, CC BY 2.0, 6. create health via flickr, Heart Rate Monitor on an Apple Watch, CC BY 2.0, 7. haiden goggin, bob ross, CC BY 2.0, 8. tanka v from roma, Italia, Kate Hudson (8033413872) (cropped), CC BY-SA 2.0 , 9. (Public Domain), 10. (Public Domain), 11. (Public Domain), 12. Shutterstock, 13. (Public Domain), 14. shutterstock, 15. Emma L. Barratt, Nick J. Davis, ASMR Map, CC BY 4.0 , 16. (Public Domain), 17. (Public Domain)