If you've ever had someone else wash your hair or massage your scalp, then you know it can give you all the good tingly feels, but apparently this feeling can help cure insomnia too. If you're wondering: What is ASMR? Well, Twitter is losing its mind over these "head orgasm" videos, so it's a worthwhile question. And I'll admit that I had to look this up because I had never heard of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, also known as ASMR, and clearly I am missing out big time. According to ASMR University, "ASMR can be simply described simply as a variety of soothing sensations (eg. tingles, relaxation, calmness, sleepiness) due to a variety of gentle stimuli (eg. whispering, soft talking, light touches, methodical sounds).
This sounds so simple — why am I just hearing about this? As a chronic pain sufferer and lifelong insomniac, maybe this is the answer to everything. Or, perhaps I am just more suggestible because it's Monday. Part of ASMR is whispering, and model Ashley Graham whispered about topics such as body activism while she did things like spray whipped cream into her mouth and opened a candy wrapper in a video from W Magazine. The whispering is intended to make you feel super relaxed.
Auditory triggers are a big part of ASMR, according to ASMR University. They can be classified as spoken sounds like soft whispering, slow, gentle, increased pitch, caring, and monotone; oral sounds like mouth sounds, chewing sounds, blowing sounds; and object sounds such as tapping, scratching, cutting, crinkling, stroking, and handling of objects.
So, now I am whispering in my head as I write this. I love soft sounds, and I hate yelling. This is part of the reason I have not listened to the radio or watched a commercial on TV in years — the yelling on the commercials makes me super anxious so I pay extra for commercial free Spotify and Hulu subscriptions. However, mouth noises make me really anxious, too so I'm probably not going to be watching any of those ASMR videos.
There are also visual and tactile ASMR triggers such as light touch, massage, hair touching, grooming, physical examination, eye contact, and observing hand movements, ASMR University noted. This has likely been happening to everyone alive all along, but who knew there was a term for it?
Some people are evening calling it a head orgasm, though you probably should't ask for that by name the next time you're at the hairdresser.
And naming the "head orgasm" means you can easily go down an ASMR rabbit hole on You Tube where all of the ASMR videos you never knew existed are enjoying a cult following.
The goal of ASMR is to make you super relaxed, happy, and calm. Kind of like when you do when Lady Gaga does those Instagram Live meditations where she whispers mantras like "I am calm, I am safe, I am light" and has someone play a singing bowl every five minutes. I didn't even know ASMR was a thing before today, but I must admit that I did love the whispering during those Gaga meditations.
According to ASMR University, ASMR can lead to physical sensations such as tingles, chills, and/or waves in the head, neck, spine, and throughout the rest of the body; and psychological sensations like good feelings of euphoria, happiness, comfort, calmness, peacefulness, relaxation, restfulness, and/or sleepiness. So, if you have trouble sleeping you might want to make ASMR part of your new nightly routine, which also gives you a valid reason to watch a lot of You Tube videos right before bed. It's a double win.
An article in the Independent said that, "The term [ASMR] was coined by the founder of ASMR Research & Support, Jennifer Allen, who defines it as 'a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scalp, and often moves down the spine and through the limbs.' It has also been described as giving 'brain orgasms'."
While you might get all warm and tingly from ASMR, most evidence to support anything other than it making you feel good has not been studied, but can millions of ASMR devotees be wrong? And isn't feeling good curative? While ASMR University is doing a collaborative research project, for now I guess you're going to have to find out for yourself. You won't be alone because I am going to go watch some ASMR videos right now so we can feel weird about watching people whisper together.