ASMR: a sleeping aid, not a sexual one

A visual describing the sensation that ASMR can evoke./WikiCommons

A strange online phenomenon may be more beneficial than you believe

Some of us, namely me, need a bit of help to fall asleep. I’ve seriously tried every remedy, and nothing ever seems to work. Melatonin has been taken, lavender sleepy time fragrance has been sprayed, but still, here I am, wide awake.

Now, every night I cue up an ASMR video and peacefully drift off. 

What is ASMR you may ask? For those who aren’t familiar with the term, ASMR, the acronym for autonomous sensory meridian response, is a pleasant reaction to specific sounds, sights, or triggers. Many people describe this sensation as getting “tingles,” feeling shivers or just generally feeling relaxed. It’s sort of complicated, so the videos below may better describe it than I can.

To capitalize on this pleasant feeling, creators on platforms such as YouTube and Patreon film videos that demonstrate hundreds of satisfying triggers, sometimes gaining millions of views. Some videos include whispering or soft speaking, or sounds such as nails tapping, hair brushing, and scratching.

When I discovered ASMR videos nearly two years ago, my first instinct was “what the hell is this?” It’s certainly a strange sight. I was admittedly weirded out when I first watched ASMR, but mostly because of the stigma surrounding this type of content.

For whatever reason, a sexual connotation has been falsely created around ASMR, despite nearly all creators making completely normal content. Because ASMR is already somewhat strange to most, it’s been so terribly exoticized and skewed that many people refuse to watch it at all.

When scrolling through the ASMR tag on YouTube, one thing sticks out; nearly every creator is a woman. This is the primary reason for why ASMR content is so stigmatized because women can’t manage to make content without being sexualized. 

Most creators are women because people happen to prefer a woman’s presence, finding it to be more gentle and relaxing. Many viewers also find men performing triggers as unsettling. “If a guy is in front of the camera and whispering, there aren’t many things he can do that won’t seem creepy,” said ASMR creator GentleWhispering when speaking to VICE.

However, because of ASMR’s tainted legacy, many people fail to realize its benefits. Even people who don’t experience “tingles” still enjoy the relaxing, gentle nature of ASMR videos.

I was once a skeptic too, but now it routinely aids me in properly relaxing. So I urge you to go out there and watch a video or two. It might be your new favorite obsession.