How Does ASMR Affect Sleep? Here’s The Science Behind Why Brain Tingles Make You Sleepy
If you're having trouble sleeping and you've tried everything, having someone whisper in your ear to create what's known as autonomous sensory meridian response might be just what you need. If you're not in the know about ASMR, and you're not sure how ASMR helps with sleep, know millions of people have turned to ASMR videos on YouTube to help them manage stress, mental health, and yes, even get to sleep sleep. (For one prominent example, check out Zoe Kravitz's viral ASMR ad for Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold and see if it doesn't make you feel like closing your eyes.) Why does this happen? Sounds like whispering, tapping, and even hair brushing can make you feel super relaxed, according to The National Sleep Foundation.
While ASMR doesn't work on everyone, if it works on you you're in for a treat. "For most people who do experience it, the blissful tingling starts up in the scalp and then makes its way through the body to the arms and legs," The National Sleep Foundation explained. "And as a result, it can trigger a feeling of relaxation before bedtime, which can help you overcome insomnia." Ready to get started? You can play Kravitz's ASMR ad on repeat when you lie down to go to sleep, or you can check out eleventy-million other ASMR videos on YouTube.
While there's plenty of anecdotal evidence about ASMR, research backs up the benefits. A 2018 study published in the journal PLOS ONE reported that for people who experience ASMR, the effects can be seen in the brain. "Neuroimaging research has revealed trait-level differences in resting-state brain activity between people who experience ASMR and those that do not," the study explained.
Another study published in the journal Peer J reported that one person discovered the benefits of ASMR by mistake after realizing he felt relaxed at the hair salon. After this experience, he looked for ways to recapture that feeling and found ASMR. "I was totally amazed, I can only describe what I started feeling as an extremely relaxed trance like state, that I didn’t want to end, a little like how I have read perfect meditation should be but I never ever achieved," the man is quoted as saying in Peer J.
Each person's ASMR triggers are different, and they're can be related to things that soothed you in childhood. For example, someone speaking softly to you or the sound of a back being scratched can transport you back to a time when you felt safe and relaxed, which in turn can help you fall asleep. It's sort of like being in a cocoon where nothing bad can get near you.
In addition to videos, there are also ASMR podcasts like Sleep Whispers to help you drift off to dreamland. One of the best things about ASMR is that there's no risk involved with trying it. If it works for you, the side effects are pleasant. If it doesn't, you're no worse off than you were before. Even if ASMR doesn't help you fall asleep, it can still help you relax. Just don't listen to it while you're driving.