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ASMR videos: What is the online trend and why are people obsessed with it?

Sarah Young
Wednesday 03 April 2019 15:04 BST
Zoë Kravitz uses ASMR in Michelob beer advert for Super Bowl 2019

If you like the sound of whispering, chewing or gentle tapping then you’re in luck because there are now more than 13m videos dedicated to such soothing noises available on YouTube.

The online streaming site has seen a huge spike in clips from so-called “ASMRtists” – a group of people who create videos of closely recorded sounds.

But why? Here, we take a look at the phenomenon of ASMR videos, from what the acronym stands for to why people are so obsessed with it.

What does ASMR stand for?

The acronym ASMR translates to autonomous sensory meridian response.

What is it?

ASMR is a sensation of deep relaxation characterised by a tingling of the skin and a feeling of euphoria washing over the body and brain.

The feeling is triggered by certain types of audio prompts including the sound of soft-spoken commentary, scratching or crinkling fabric.

What happens in an ASMR video?

ASMR videos involve individuals recording themselves making sounds.

The clips can feature almost anything and everything, from the sound of rolling marbles on a hard surface to pouring lentils into a pot or turning the pages of a book.

Other videos include roleplay, which is where ASMRtists act out different situations such as pretending to be a doctor or beautician.

You can also find videos that are soundtracks of whispering or softly spoken word.

One of the most popular ASMR videos of all time was created by ASMR Darling, a female US YouTuber, who touches her microphone with a makeup brush, whispers, makes noises with sticky tape and lights matches in a 30-minute long video. The video has been viewed more than 30 million times.

Maria Gentle Whispering is another popular ASMRtist, boasting an impressive 1.6 million subscribers on her YouTube channel.

Why do people like it?

While ASMR might sound odd to some people, it’s incredibly popular in the online world.

The reason for this is that people report get a relaxing feeling when they hear certain sounds, meaning it is often used as an everyday solution to stress.

“ASMR is maybe the most niche content on the internet and I love it,” one person wrote on Twitter about the phenomenon.

Another commented: “Confession but I actually watch ASMR vids to help me de-stress.

“As bizarre as they may seem to some people, it’s kind of like meditative or something with the calming effect it can have.”

Does ASMR have any health benefits?

While many people who watch ASMR videos say it can help them relax, soothe anxiety and even help with insomnia, little is known about the health benefits of the phenomenon.

However, in 2015, researchers from Swansea University found that in a study of 500 people, the majority responded well to whispering, crisp sounds and slow movement.

Similarly, a 2018 study by the University of Sheffield measured the physiology of those who claimed to experience ASMR.

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It found that those who said they felt the sensation had a reduction in their heart rate of about 3.14 beats per minute while watching the videos.

This was, they said, comparable to the effects of relaxation techniques such as mindfulness.

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