ASMR Sleep - How To Sleep Better With ASMR?
Do you feel like you haven’t even heard of ASMR until recently, and now it’s all around us? Don’t be surprised because it’s a term that’s only been present for a little over 10 years. Let’s find out together more about the connection between ASMR and sleep.
Every now and then something appears that supposedly magically cures anxiety, depression, insomnia and other complex problems.
Such things become globally popular in a short time, but they disappear just as quickly, and in a few years no one remembers them anymore. ASMR seemed like one of those things, but by now we’ve realized that ASMR is here to stay.
Although this phenomenon has not been sufficiently explored because there are still no respectable clinical trials and peer review studies, it obviously helps many people without known side effects. That’s why we from The Sleep Advisors decided to investigate this topic in more detail and these are our conclusions.
What is ASMR?
ASMR is an abbreviation for autonomous sensory meridian response and that is not a medical term. Still there is no official medical term for it. We believe that after explaining what the abbreviation stands for, it is not much clearer to you what ASMR is. But if we tell you to remember the feeling of pleasant scalp tingling, would that ring a bell? We assume it will.
Different people describe this experience in different ways, but they all agree that it is very relaxing and that it is followed by a tingling sensation. That feeling is not significantly different from chills when you listen to music or do some other activity that brings you great pleasure.
If you do not feel an autonomous sensory meridian response, that is nothing strange, don’t worry. You belong to about 20% of people who do not experience ASMR. The majority first encounter the autonomous sensory meridian response during childhood, and some only in adulthood. We can say that it is a bit surprising that ASMR came under the spotlight only recently, because it is obvious that people experienced ASMR even 100 years ago.
What are the primary triggers for ASMR?
We told you that the feeling is quite similar to the one you get when music gives you chills. But the main difference is that in the case of ASMR the trigger is not music, but other sounds like whispering.
When someone whispers something in your ear, there is a good chance you will experience ASMR. It can be in a sensual way, but it is not necessary. Whispering is certainly the most common stimulus that leads to ASMR, as three quarters of those tested reacted to whispering.
Crisp sound is sound that is very clear. When you buy new speakers, especially if you choose high quality ones, you can expect autonomous sensory meridian response. When we hear perfect sound from the speakers, more than 50% of people feel ASMR. Why this is so is not completely known, but give it a try.
Repetitive, slow movements can also be a trigger for ASMR, although less often than the previously mentioned triggers. If slow movements are accompanied by white noise, for example, the effect can be even stronger. That’s why you can find many such ASMR videos on YouTube. Those videos have millions of views in just a few years, or even months.
The principle of ASMR & how it works
Research on ASMR is still in its infancy, so everything we are going to tell you now are just hypotheses waiting to be confirmed, and that will take years. Measuring brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the focus of researchers because they believe that this is the fastest and most accurate way to get the necessary data to define ASMR.
During the examination, they observed whole brain activation, which means the activation of different parts of the brain at the same time. The activity was primarily observed in the sections responsible for social matters, as well as in the sections for relaxation and sleep. These are the parts that are closely related to certain hormones, which we will talk about in the next part.
They came to the vague conclusion that people with certain character traits have a greater chance of experiencing ASMR than others. Nevertheless, it is clear that a lot more research is needed before it will be possible to publish a study where a clear connection between all this will be made. The subject is complicated and it is necessary to focus also on the arousal that individuals feel during ASMR. Such arousal is not sexual but rather can be described as excitement. Whether all this is connected with unusual connectivity in the brain remains to be seen.
ASMR & hormones
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They are secreted by glands and control most of the processes in our body. We are probably not even aware of which functions hormones are in charge of. Suffice it to say that we cannot live without hormones, be it insulin, testosterone or some other. ASMR is also believed to be related to hormones. Your body reacts to certain sensations by secreting hormones and you feel the consequences of that. ASMR is most likely associated with secretion of the oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins and dopamine.
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and released by the hypophysis. It is primarily known for its role during childbirth as it stimulates uterine contractions. It is also important for milk production and for sexual activities. Since it affects both bonding between mother and child and between partners during intimacy acts, it is called love hormone. We can connect the feeling of love and tingly sensation with ASMR too.
Serotonin is often as happy chemical. This is true, but its role is much more complex. Rather, you could say that it is the hormone that most affects mood, not just feeling of happiness. It also plays an important role in many other cognitive activities. In order to have enough serotonin in the body, among other things, the health of the intestinal tract is very important. Feeling of happiness and ASMR somewhat resemble.
Probably the most similar feeling to ASMR is given by endorphins. Many opiates target endorphins to induce feelings of euphoria. The body uses endorphins in stressful situations, but this does not mean only dangerous or very demanding situations, but also when exercising or having intercourse. Endorphins is even associated with binge eating. It can significantly reduce pain and restlessness.
Dopamine is the key to motivation. When you complete a task successfully, for example pass an exam or earn money, dopamine will make you want to do it again to get that feeling of satisfaction again. When the dopamine level is low, a person feels unmotivated. It is believed that dopamine can motivate us to seek autonomous sensory meridian response, but this is still an unconfirmed claim.
Will ASMR help me sleep better?
There is not a single peer-reviewed study or number of clinical trials that can give a credible answer to this question. That’s why for now we rely only on people’s experiences. What experience shows is that ASMR helps a not so small number of people to overcome sleep problems or make their symptoms milder.
And how are the autonomous sensory meridian response and sleep connected? Magnetic resonance imaging has revealed that ASMR activates parts of the brain that secrete hormones for relaxation and sleep. When asked about the time of the day when they use ASMR videos, over 80% of respondents told that they do it before going to bed. So there is an obvious connection that will probably be proven in the coming years. Until then, you can use ASMR as a sleep aid if you find it helpful.
Does ASMR help with other problems such as depression?
Once again we can’t use any reliable source to back such claims. If you suffer from depression, anxiety or any other problem, consult your doctor first. Only when you get all the necessary information about the treatment, you can look for some alternative methods that can potentially be helpful, such as ASMR.
ASMR can improve your mood, which is certainly helpful if you are depressed. Also, if you are anxious and depressed due to chronic pain, ASMR may be able to reduce pain thanks to endorphins. It’s worth a shot for sure.
So - how to sleep better with ASMR?
ASMR is certainly not a one size fits all experience, but it is rather a subjective thing, so each person must decide for himself or herself what works best. The selection of ASMR videos is huge. You probably won’t find the ideal right away, because the choice is immense, and the advice of friends is usually not useful because everyone experiences ASMR in their own way, as we have already mentioned.
Be patient and you will find what you are looking for. Also, over time, a certain ASMR video may become irritating to you even though it was very pleasant for a long time. Then you will find another. ASMR videos are much more effective if you take care of sleep hygiene and bedroom conditions as well. Don’t forget that blue light emitted by your smartphone or tablet can be harmful before bedtime because it slows down or stops the release of melatonin.
Can ASMR do any harm to you?
You can be totally tranquil regarding ASMR. It can’t put you in any danger or cause harm. You may not find ASMR pleasant and helpful, but it is certain that nothing bad will happen. Autonomous sensory meridian response is a completely natural reaction of the body to certain stimuli, so although we still lack a lot of information on this topic, we know one thing for sure – it is 100% safe.