A Newbie’s Guide to ASMR

ASMR Girl sleeping with headphones on the bed

In February of 2010, Jennifer Allen, a cybersecurity professional residing in New York, coined the term ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response'(ASMR), formally naming a phenomenon that, it’s pretty safe to say, has been around from time immemorial.

Before then several terms had been used both formally and colloquially to describe a sensation that most people have felt in their lifetime (likely quite often), Attention Induced Head Orgasm, Attention Induced Euphoria, brain massage, spine tingle, head tingle, brain orgasm.

What is ASMR (Meaning of)?

At this point you’re probably wondering what exactly this sensation is.

Well, remember the times you’ve felt a deeply relaxing tingling sensation (very much like a light electrical current) flow from your head, down to your neck, spine and the rest of your body? If so, you’ve experienced ASMR.

If not, simply described, ASMR is a variety of pleasurable sensations experienced by the body due to a range of gentle stimuli. Contrary to what some of the earlier names above would suggest, ASMR is usually non-sexual in nature.

Common ASMR Triggers (Stimuli)

ASMR can be internally triggered (Type A ASMR) or externally triggered (Type B ASMR).

With both types of ASMR, the triggers are incredibly wide ranging, from acoustic (sounds), to visual cues and tender physical contact.

As varied as the triggers are they share some common traits, such as; being repetitive, gentle, methodical, low and steady in volume.

Some examples of ASMR triggers are,

  • Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice.
  • Quiet repetitive sounds from normal everyday tasks, eg someone turning the pages of a book.
  • Receiving tender physical contact,eg, head massage, haircut, grooming.
  • Eye contact, watching body movements, especially hand movements.
  • Tapping sounds, cutting, crinkling, etc.

For the majority of people prone to ASMR, even watching a recording of any of the above stimuli is enough to trigger ASMR.

Head Massager Tool

It’s very difficult to explain the sensation one gets from ASMR to non-experienced people. One of the best ways to explain it is by using a head massager tool. More particularly the Orgasmatron, also known as the Spider or Tingler.

Probably everyone has seen or maybe even tried this device at some point or another as it dates back from before there even was talk about ASMR.

Using the device is very simple. You gently move it over your head and you can even go as low as the back of your neck. This results in a tingling feeling that can be quite relaxing.

girl uses head massager spider

Why Is ASMR Important?

Before 2007 not too many people were concerned about ASMR. It wasn’t until a 21-year-old registered user of a health-related discussion website posted a thread about having experienced a ‘certain sensation’ from childhood that people began to come forward with their own anecdotes.

From that thread, interest in ASMR was piqued; analysis, studies and investigations began on the subject leading to much of what is known today.

While the physical sensation of ASMR is undeniably pleasurable, a lot of the psychological effects are still being uncovered.

With that being said many people tend to agree that the effects of ASMR on an individual are calming, euphoric, causing deep satisfaction, enjoyment and sleepiness whenever felt. This has led to the explosion of people using the effects of ASMR to combat insomnia, anxiety attacks, etc.

As the effects of ASMR become more and more well known, people have taken to creating ASMR inducing content, exhibited by the ever increasing number of videos and audio recordings on platforms such as Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud. Such is their popularity that ASMR content creators have even been specially named ASMRtists (ASMR artists).

Binaural Effect and Headphones

In broad terms, this is the experience of three dimensionality on a recording by a listener (think soundstage). Strictly speaking, the binaural effect is not only limited to ASMR but sound and music recording as a whole.

The binaural effect leaves the listener with the feeling of being in very close proximity to the vocalist on the recording. This means for those who need the effects of induced ASMR to combat anxiety or insomnia the binaural effect is invaluable as it amplifies those effects.

Now, of course, binaural recordings are made to be listened to via headphones rather than speakers and therefore to get the full benefits you’ll need to purchase a good pair of headphones.

If you’re going to be using the effects of ASMR to combat insomnia, like the majority of people do, then you should consider investing in a pair of good sleep headphones to ensure you get the best of both worlds.

Best ASMR Sources

Reddit

Looking for kindred spirits, find out more information and listen to personal experiences? There’s lots to be found on Reddit. Here are some of the more popular subreddits.

Youtube

If you want video AND sound, there’s no better place to get your daily dose of ASMR, than on Youtube.



Spotify

Ideal for relaxing on the couch or trying to get to sleep, Spotify has got an excellent ASMR selection featuring complete albums and selected playlists.

Albums

Playlists

Conclusion

As a relatively new phenomenon to the study halls of the world, ASMR is still in the discovery stage of the true depths of its effects.

What is currently known, however, is enough to push it to the forefront of effective insomnia and anxiety treatments.

As for triggers, there is no end to those, so if you haven’t experienced it yet, play around with a few different types of stimuli online until you find what works best for you and enjoy that spine tingling orgasmic feeling.

If you happen to have any questions or even tips you want to share, then let me know in the comments below!

I am by no means an expert in ASMR, but I do find the subject very interesting and intriguing. Therefore this article has been written purely out of interest in the matter and because of the relationship between ASMR and headphones.

12 thoughts on “A Newbie’s Guide to ASMR”

  1. I have never heard of ASMR  but this sounds very very interesting. I have not experienced it either.  I don’t think I have had any tingling in the back of my head. I will try out the methods listed out in this post. I look forward to having that relaxing feel. It’s quite a busy world, more people should have ASMR experience and reduce stress.

  2. This is a very interesting article. Never heard of ASMR until now.

    Personally, I don’t have problems with sleeping. In the evening, once I am in my bedroom, I feel sleepy. Moreso, If I lie down in my bed, either because I’m tired or it’s time for me to sleep, I can sleep in a few minutes, even if I still do some social media stuff, like facebook.

    For me, a whole body massage is very relaxing. Not sure if that is ASMR., though.

    A long warm shower also relaxes me, even while doing it in the bathroom, I feel so relaxed.

    Thanks for this great information.

    Marita

  3. It’s interesting seeing the other comments on this post as I also have problems when it comes to sleeping, I guess you can say that I am a light sleeper. The idea of ASMR sounds great and the relaxation of it could be something to look into, I may have come across it before without realising but I’ll check it out now that I understand more about it. 

    Since I use Spotify it could be worth checking out the play lists to try it out, I’ll try out those links 1 by one until I find one that works for me

    Thanks again for sharing this!

    Josh

  4. wow what an interesting post you have written. I agree that there are times that you can hear or be exposed to a sensation that just blows your mind! We are wired as human beings to respond to different stimulation. I will be reading more of your site as I think you offer some useful and interesting content on your site. Thanks Kenny 

  5. Hi there Jurgen,

    Normally I have problems with sleeping – I wake up a couple of times during the night and if that’s not enough… the slightest sound can also wake me. Of course, all that leads to not getting enough sleep, which is a big problem. The first time I stumbled upon ASMR (a couple of weeks ago), I was like “What did I just watched?!” and just quit after the 3rd minute.Today, however, I had some free time and decided to search for a way to help and fix my problem… which led me to this article. To be honest I was skeptical at first, but after reading it I think to give ASMR a 2nd chance and see if it helps.

    Cheers,Nick.

  6. Emmanuel Buysse

    This is a great post, since you have people (even doctors) who say it is in your mind and you only think that.

    We saw it with my mother, and later it turned out she has a sleeping disorder, so after that she went to sleep with ASMR (which my papa was like, ahh, music, what will it do).

    But it succeeded, she sleeps so much better now, and reading his post, i’m confident we took the right decision.

    Your post will help many people, and hopefully let them get a good sleeping rest, thanks!

  7. I get disturbed easily at any sound while asleep.. I am a sleep junky and I don’t tend to get enough because of the kind of place I reside. The asmr is what I am obviously going to give a try and see how it works because I sure need help on that note. Thanks for the article

  8. Hey Jurgen,

    I really enjoyed this post and opened up an ASMR playlist as soon as I started reading. This is a new phenomenon for me, it’s really hard to explain how relaxing the sounds are. I live in the centre of Berlin and often get disturbed by outside noise – I’m looking forward to giving ASMR a try when I go to sleep tonight!

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  9. I have never heard of ASMR headphones but I am always intrigued when something new comes on the market. I purchased the Bluetooth headphones and well pleased with the results. I can listen to my music which is very therapeutic.

    I am assuming that ASMR goes a bit deeper and touches on areas of the brain that produces positive effects on the brain. It would be interesting to see what medical test have come up with

  10. Hi Jurgen,

    A very interesting article.

    I have never heard of ASMR before but feel as though I know the feeling you are talking about.

    I know this is a new subject so you may not have the answer for this but do you know if it’s effective treatment for insomnia and anxiety is a bandaid treatment or something that may have deep and lasting effects for treating the disorders?

    Also, are there specific headphones out there that may be more likely to induce the ASMR sensation than others?

    Thanks for the info!

    All the best,

    Geno

    1. Hey Geno,

      There are specific ASMR videos and music tracks that you can use in bed to help you get to sleep and combat insomnia.
      It’s best to find some comfortable non-intrusive headphones, like the specially designed sleep headphones.

      Wheter it completetly cures insomnia or other anxieties is difficult to say…

      The sound quality of the headphones is not that important, just any decent headphones will do the job.
      The important thing is that the headphone is comfortable to wear, so you don’t get distracted.

      Cheers!

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