ASMR has been around for 10 years, mainly on YouTube, yet many hadn’t heard of it, let alone experienced it, before Sunday night’s commercial. ASMR is a feeling often experienced as a tingling sensation that starts in the head and moves down the spine. It comes through various forms of audio and visual stimuli, and is mainly used as a relaxation technique, says the YouTube personality who goes by the name Gibi ASMR.
You’re at a Super Bowl party, heading to refill your plate with nachos, when you’re stopped by the sounds of Zoe Kravitz softly whispering into microphones and gently tapping her nails against a bottle of Michelob Ultra. You’re captivated, oddly relaxed and even feeling a little tingly. You, my friend, have just experienced ASMR — or autonomous sensory meridian response.

At the other end of the spectrum, I had a memory of a sexual experience that was such a strong trigger that for almost 15 years after the event, just thinking about that experience could trigger an actual orgasm with full body ASMR. (sorry if that’s TMI) (And don’t anyone be too jealous, I’m now old, gray, fat and long past those days in my life, but I’ve got the memories. LOL)
The explanation behind this physiological reaction lies in the brain. "It's likely that the tingling is due to specific neurochemicals (like oxytocin and endorphins) being released during ASMR—and these neurochemicals are also inducing the deep feeling of relaxation," says Craig Richard, PhD, an ASMR researcher, professor at Shenandoah University in Virginia, and author of Brain Tingles. In a 2018 study published by Richard and his colleagues, they found that ASMR activated similar regions of the brain as those activated during affiliate behaviors, which includes interpersonal bonding (such as parent-infant bonding) along with grooming and care-giving behaviors that involve positive personal attention. These behaviors share similar triggers with ASMR, such as gentle touch, soft voices, focused attention, and a bond of trust.

"As ASMR has started to come to mainstream attention, researchers have finally begun trying to answer that question. Neuroscientists are now experimenting with fMRIs and electroencephalography to see if the brains of 'tingleheads,' as they are called, are any different than those who don’t tremble at the sight of napkin-folding. They’ve also surveyed tens of thousands of people who say they experience the phenomenon. So far there are intriguing—if limited—findings suggesting that ASMR may relieve some people’s symptoms of stress and insomnia, and that the brains of those who experience it may be organized a little differently."
Since then, I've been watching a vast array of long and otherwise incredibly boring videos specifically designed to produce the ASMR response. Most people I've mentioned it to have no similar response at all, and can't imagine why I'd sit and bliss out to an 18-minute video of a Russian girl folding towels, or a Greek girl waving her hands in my face, or somebody tapping their fingernails on a wooden box.
The main trigger though is being in large open areas with no one around, even seeing pictures of large open areas can trigger it. I used to work at a college that had several buildings, modern buildings, not ivy covered brick. One was not classrooms, but an area with offices and occasional banquets, so it was mainly empty and quiet. I used to sit there on breaks just to get that relaxation tingly sensation.Is this ASMR or something else?
A: I’ve been watching ASMR for about eight years. I was a horrible sleeper and could never go to bed, so I was just always watching YouTube on my phone. I stumbled on one of the videos, and I literally never stopped watching. When I was a film major, I was always into YouTube; I loved the internet culture; I loved everything about ASMR. I was so familiar with the community and who was in it and the little nuances. I was like, “If I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I think I would do ASMR.” I didn’t think anyone would like what I had to offer, but I knew I wanted to take it seriously.
I just went through all the videos on this page, and it seems I only respond to female voices. The other videos of scratching and stuff, didn’t do anything for me. Now that I think about it, I don’t get ticklish if I sit next to another guy. Even the music I listen to tend to be all female vocalists. I’m not a sexist, but I guess being a guy, I respond to higher-pitched female voices. At night, I hit the Japanese radio stations on my phone looking for female DJs and if I catch one talking, I close my eyes, and I’m sleeping before I can count to 20.
Wow similar and different from me. I listened to ASMR every night for about 6 months when I felt tingles for the first time. It was for probably less than 2 seconds, then a month or two passes before it happens again. But it is happening more often but still randomly. Some weeks I do not get the feeling, other times it is multiple times a week. But every time it is for less than 3 seconds. I am questioning if it is just pins and needles but feels nice because the asmr is so soothing. But you are the first person I have found who had a “delayed” experience. My brain might just be making this up due to my repeated listening and intense research into the subject.

“I can tell you first hand, I tried chalk, one of the natural kinds that everyone “loves” and I IMMEDIATELY knew it was not for me,” the user told Motherboard. “And I frequently tell people, and it is almost always young women, who ask me if I chew chalk or clay the reasons why I don’t: 1) It was a nasty experience from both a taste and textural standpoint; 2) Dental work is expensive, and I’m not risking mine for something that I don’t enjoy.”
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There is no solid data about ASMR, no published research studies — not yet. The term “ASMR” is nonclinical, coined in 2010 by a woman named Jennifer Allen who started an ASMR Facebook group and later became part of a team — along with Richard — that collected and analyzed anecdotal information about the sensation. Richard also notes the work of Bryson Lochte, a Dartmouth College undergrad who has used neuroimaging technology to study ASMR for his senior thesis but has not published his results.
I’ve had these triggers for years, going back to when I was around 8 years old. Years later, while watch Bob Ross, on PBS, I noticed that I fell asleep, and awoke 30 minutes later, totally relaxed. This happened with several other television shows as well as watching people involved in repetitive tasks, such as the lady at the gym, sweeping the floors or while having the hygienist clean my teeth. All I know is this: Whatever it is, it feels good in the back of my brain. This reminds me of my son’s study of binuarals-the constant tones, which, when experienced via headphones, causes different reactions, such as enhanced creativity or inner-peace. Perhaps those involved in Music Therapy will find this helpful in the treatment of their brain-injured patients. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was given music therapy as part of her rehabilitation. It’s nice to have the internet to share these things.
What if you don’t NEED any triggers? I have been experiencing ASMR just by will since second grade. I can have it whenever I want it, hot or freezing weather, standing, sitting, running, resting, busy, doesn’t matter. I can just do it over and over and over again with very little meditating involved or sometimes even none, just need to focus and BOOM, the brain wave goes throughout my body and the tingling and such. I can even touch some people and they get that weird wonderful sense but very limited. Just recently I can get all my fingers to have tingling feelings (before was just back of my palm, but it’s advancing, but I’m a bit worried if this is good or bad for health..)… Anybody like me at all? I feel so alone in this world for decades… and my friends just think I’m weird and creepy when I perform it (always have goosebumps)
ASMR refers to the pleasurable sensation people experience when exposed to various specific triggers, either from ASMR videos or in their everyday lives. According to a 2015 study from Swansea University in Wales—the first peer-reviewed research into ASMR—whispering is the most common trigger for ASMR, with 75% of participants experiencing ASMR sensations from it. The other most common triggers were personal attention, crisp sounds (like tapping or crunching), and slow movements, as reported by the group of 475 participants.
Having had enough not so good conditions (bipolar, ADD, panic attacks), it feels so good to have this one! Since ASMR seems to be triggered by so many things, I'm with the people who get tingly responses from certain types of touch (massage, scalp massage) and certain sounds (put me on on a boat or train and I'm in happyland). Strangely, whispering, tapping, folding laundry have no effect at all or are even annoying. Have also bought a few hypnosis CDs and they actually irritate the crap out of me and I hate guided meditation! But soft speaking voices are my main non-physical trigger. If I listen to certain presenters on Radio National Australia, This American Life etc, I can't drive because it's too hypnotic. Very blissful though :). For those who have the condition, you'll find your trigger even if it's not in the top 5.
Sleep and Relax ASMR is a weekly podcast that creates audio experiences designed to help people sleep and relax. The show uses various ASMR triggers including whispers, gentle speaking, relaxing background noise, and general ambiance to help people unwind and relax from their busy lives. Our goal is to create the best ASMR content possible. Whether you enjoy the sound of soothing waves, snow crunching on a mountain, a soft spoken ramble, or whispered storytelling, Sleep and Relax ASMR has your ASMR needs covered. Check out Sleep and Relax ASMR and Friends for more ASMR content. Become a supporter of this podcast: https://anchor.fm/sleepandrelaxasmr/support.Read more »
The increase in skin conductance “went against our initial predictions,” says Dr. Giulia Poerio, a research associate at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the paper. She says the seemingly contradictory combination of heart rate drop and increased biological excitement “could reflect the emotional complexity of ASMR.” Paradoxical emotional experiences are not unheard of — take nostalgia, the paper notes, which can conjure up feelings of happiness and sadness simultaneously.
If ASMR has made its way into commercials, what’s next? Richard said it is creeping into other media forms. In fact, there are two ASMR movies in production. “Imagine a full-length ASMR video produced by a large studio with a big budget with a goal to make it an amazing ASMR experience. That is a movie you are going to want to see over and over if you experience ASMR anyway.”
In addition to the effectiveness of specific auditory stimuli, many subjects report that ASMR is triggered by the receipt of tender personal attention, often comprising combined physical touch and vocal expression, such as when having their hair cut, nails painted, ears cleaned, or back massaged, whilst the service provider speaks quietly to the recipient. Furthermore, many of those who have experienced ASMR during these and other comparable encounters with a service provider report that watching an "ASMRtist" simulate the provision of such personal attention, acting directly to the camera as if the viewer were the recipient of a simulated service, is sufficient to trigger it.[5][16]
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