“We found that people who experience ASMR showed significant reductions in their heart rates compared to non-ASMR participants,” Poerio explains, “These reductions are comparable to other stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness and music therapy.” Poerio says this finding is crucial because reduced heart rates prove people who enjoy ASMR are not sexually aroused.
So how do you know if you have ASMR? There’s no single way to tell for sure, but for starters, you can watch some of the internet’s most popular videos and determine whether they elicit a tingling response. And for your convenience, we’ve compiled some of the best ASMR videos that YouTube has to offer—so get those goose bumps ready, and while you’re at it, try these brain teasers to find out whether you’re smarter than an astronaut.
Have you ever felt a static-like or tingling sensation on the top of your head when someone brushes your hair or whispers to you? The feeling may travel down your arms and your spine, and it likely makes you feel very relaxed. Some call it a “sparkly” feeling, and it might happen when you hear someone crinkle a piece of paper or when someone traces a word on your back.
Try out a few of the most popular ASMRists (as they're known) on YouTube, like Ilse of TheWaterWhispers, Maria of GentleWhispering, or Taylor of ASMR Darling. Each of these channels covers a range of triggers and, while some videos last upwards of 30 minutes, most ASMR enthusiasts report tingling after only a few minutes of concentrating on the sounds.
Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz suggests that a passage from the novel Mrs. Dalloway authored by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925, describes something distinctly comparable. In the passage from Mrs. Dalloway cited by Setz, a nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient 'deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound'.
Just as the reasons vary, so do the triggers. A 2015 study examined ASMR triggers and found that whispering was the most common, with 75% of participants saying it caused body tingles. 64% of participants cited "crisp sounds," like the crackling of foil or tapping of fingernails, as triggers, and 53% said "slow movements," like pouring water, were triggers. Although different people prefer or only react to certain triggers, they typically seek them for the same reason: the physical and emotional side effects.
In the first peer-reviewed article on ASMR, published in Perspectives in Biology in summer 2013, Nitin Ahuja, who was at the time of publication a medical resident at the University of Virginia, invited conjecture on whether the receipt of simulated medical attention might have some tangible therapeutic value for the recipient, comparing the purported positive outcome of clinical role play ASMR videos with the themes of the novel Love in the Ruins by author and physician Walker Percy, published in 1971.