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.
She was soon feeling so much better that she decided to film herself eating some spaghetti, and ASMRTheChew was born. She now has more than 400,000 YouTube subscribers, and her ASMR whispering and eating videos, aimed to help viewers with issues ranging from anxiety to insomnia, have been watched over 85 million times on that platform alone. (She has also gone viral on Instagram).
"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."
Maria says that she hears from subscribers, including doctors and psychologists, who are excited by the ASMR research. But mostly, she gets thank-you notes — from people with anxiety or sleep disorders, from overwhelmed college students struggling through exam week, from military veterans who tell her that her videos offer a sense of calm that they can’t find elsewhere.