What’s With All That Whispering? Exploring the ASMR Sound Boom

From celebrities like Selma Hayek to Cardi B, people are turning to various forms of non-chemical stress relief, mood uplifting, and relaxation and the new kid on the block is ASMR.

What is it?

Recently popularized Audio Sensory Meridian Response or AMSR videos have been around for almost a decade now. In 2008 the term ASMR was coined by Jennifer Allen, as a way to give name and explanation to the tingling feeling she received when listening to everyday things such as crackling wrappers or hair brushing. Since hundreds of videos have emerged on YouTube to include various triggers from hand movements to whispers and sounds all to support the sensory needs of listeners.

Of course, I approached this as a skeptic, because why would a video of a woman on YouTube brushing her hair make me tingle all over?

What I found most interesting is the narration of the sounds and the hand movements. Which I assume are necessary for fans. While the videos did not induce a tingling sensation, what I did find is my heart rate slowed and breathing became heavier as if I was being lulled into an almost hypnotic trans and I was on my way to a mid-day nap. Now, just imagine me sitting at the Starbucks doing research for this post…

The truth is people have been experiencing ASMR affects for centuries; from opening a bag of popcorn and listening to the soothing crunch to the relaxation that comes from continuous hair brushing.

While psychologists are still conducting research on the ASMR phenomenon and how it can fully be used to promote additional forms of relaxation and cure insomnia, some positives have already been discovered. In 2015, researchers from Swansea University in Wales published a peer-reviewed study on the ASMR phenomenon. After surveying 475 people who report experiencing “the tingles”, they found that a good majority sought out ASMR videos on YouTube to help them sleep and to deal with stress. In fact, most viewers found they felt better after watching these videos and for some time after, including those who scored high on a survey for depression. Some of the subjects who suffered from chronic pain also said the videos decreased their symptoms. (Smithsonian.com March 2017).

It is important to note that not everyone will feel the tingling effects mentioned by many. For some people listening and watching ASMR videos they can give your mood a lift or lower your heart rate allowing you to relax after a long day. ASMR sounds can also create a great backdrop and white noise for keeping focus on projects and activities (John Cline, Ph.D. Psychologytoday.com 2018)

If you’re looking to give ASMR a try and experience the many benefits, try visiting the Gentle Whispers channel hosted by Maria Viktorovna or if you prefer a male audio, give Dimitri a try at Massage ASMR

Jamila Taylor

World traveler, strategic planner, stylist, and food enthusiast. Jamila loves to travel the world tasting new flavors, and exploring local cultures. When she's not traveling on her magic carpet she's helping small businesses through her boutique consulting firm, Enjoy the Day Consulting. Follow her travels @justjamila

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