What is ASMR? Why is ASMR popular?

If you’ve ever searched for a relaxation video of soft gentle rain, a purring cat, or a cozy fireplace scene on YouTube, you’ve probably noticed an ASMR thumbnail in your recommended videos. Below I explore why ASMR videos are the new guided meditation.

What is ASMR? Why is ASMR popular?

In the same way people enjoy having NPR on as background noise, trancing out to Bob Ross painting happy little trees, or having a fan blowing white noise as they fall asleep, ASMR videos have a consistently relaxing quality.

If you’ve ever gotten lost in the sound of your feet softly crunching fresh autumn leaves, or enjoyed that cozy-dozy-relaxed feeling when someone brushes your hair, or felt a tingling sensation, similar to “the chills”, when someone whispered in your ear, you’ve experienced ASMR.

This act of checking out of your life, to steep in the effervescent tingle of ASMR, reduces stress and anxiety. Unlike a massage or traditional guided meditation where you are taken deep into relaxation and then drawn back out of it, ASMR videos are designed to peacefully cradle you into relaxation and tuck you into a cozy nest of slumber. A perfect replacement for hangover inducing melatonin, or worse pharmaceutical sleep-aids.

This act of checking out of your life, to steep in the effervescent tingle of ASMR, reduces stress and anxiety, much the way that meditation does.

The ASMR-tist provides the viewer with a sense of being nurtured and cared for while using items in their space, like a Foley stage, to create soft-volumed, soothing sounds by running their fingers softly across a variety of surfaces, tapping a variety of items, and often tracing objects with the pads of their finger tips. Some crumple papers, run brushes over microphones, or squeeze leaves in their hands. Soft-lighting and whispering are critical elements in the recipe that makes up the cozy atmospheric massage that is ASMR.

Often the ASMR-tist will create a narrative, or roleplay scenario, for the video, such as being welcomed in out of the rain to a cozy forest inn. They also tend to move slowly, making soothing, flowy motions to trigger the relaxing tingly feelings. These videos allow the viewer to pause from the noise of everyday life and its constant assault on the senses.

To maximize benefits, it is suggested that you lay comfortably and use headphones, or earbuds, which helps to submerge you in this alternate reality, in the same way watching a film in a dark theater, with a big screen, makes you feel a part of the story. Videos are usually filmed with the ASMR-tist very close to the camera, so there is a sense of togetherness and shared space.

Some ASMR YouTube channels to check out are ASMR Darling (she’s a top creator with 1.3 million subscribers) and Goodnight Moon (she creates magical narratives in a fairytale world and makes you the protagonist).

Have you ever experienced ASMR? Have you watched any ASMR videos? Do you have a favorite ASMR-tist?


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