The Benefits of ASMR Include Body Tingles, Euphoria, and Brain Orgasms (Oh My!)
What is ASMR? If you shrugged your shoulders, you may be surprised to hear that you have likely experienced ASMR at some point in your life. When The Joy of Painting was still on public television, I was drawn to the soothing sound of host Bob Ross’s voice. As he twirled his brush and created magic before our eyes, I fell into a trance, escaping to a euphoric place within my mind. His calming presence and soft, whisper-like tone had an immediate impact on my stress levels and helped me relax. In fact, I’d often fall asleep while watching him paint. I didn’t know it then, but Ross was a trigger for autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR—which has many health benefits.
What is ASMR?
Autonomous sensory meridian response is a mouthful, but the concept is simple. ASMR is the physical response to auditory, visual, or tactile triggers, usually a tingly sensation similar to feeling chills. Think of the goosebumps you might get when someone whispers into your ear. That’s ASMR. Most experts attribute ASMR’s relaxing sensations to the release of endorphins, a chemical in the brain that leads to feelings of happiness and euphoria, and a surge of oxytocin. You experience a surge of oxytocin during orgasm, which most likely parallels the chemical release of ASMR and why devotees refer to this phenomenon as brain or head orgasms.
Although experts agree that the experience is not sexual, people do experience ASMR in different ways. Some people feel tingles in various parts of the body, such as the head, spine, and legs. Others may not get tingles, but just enjoy the deep relaxation that comes from the experience.
What are Potential Triggers?
Common triggers can be auditory, visible, or tactile, and include nature sounds, whispering, tapping, scratching, turning pages of a book, and hair brushing. Role playing is another big one, and binaural ASMR, which creates 3D sounds, is one of the newest known triggers. For me, the sound of a babbling brook combined with a soft breeze is my number one ASMR trigger. I also get the tingles when rain is falling outside, and thunder strikes in the distance.
If you’re unsure what triggers work for you, Dr. Craig Richard, an ASMR researcher, biopharmaceutical sciences professor, and ASMR University founder, recommends exposing yourself to a variety of different content. Inside the Sanity & Self app are a range audio tracks that feature common ASMR triggers, including several sound series to help you relax and sleep. The Calming Rain, Soothing Water, Warm Fire, and Fields and Forests tracks feature the soothing ambiance of crackling fire, field crickets, crashing waves, light rain, and many more. There are also guided visualizations that help you focus on scenery, such as sunsets and starry skies, while breathing, and empowered bedtime tales. You can listen to excerpts from Emma, the classic story by Jane Austen, or Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
What Are Potential Benefits?
ASMR is a physiological experience that helps people relax, but it may have additional therapeutic benefits for both physical and mental health. A recent study showed that those who experience ASMR showed significantly greater reductions in their heart rates, levels of stress, and sadness, and increases in positive emotions including relaxation and feelings of social connection. Many people who experience ASMR liken it to meditation (you can experience ASMR during meditation) or therapy, saying it helps with insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Some even say it reduces chronic pain. ASMR shifts our attention from daily stressors and worries and places us in the moment much like the practice of mindfulness.
Another benefit of ASMR is the human connection and compassion it creates. People are starving to have someone speak to them in a kind, caring way. Depending on the trigger, this can fill some of this need.
For me, the benefits of ASMR are profound. This response helps me unwind after a long, stressful day. I especially love listening to nature sounds and soothing voices while drifting off to sleep. I often rely on Sanity & Self’s meditation and yoga teacher Jimmée Greco and her audio series Getting the Sleep You Need: The Seven-Day Program for Restorative Sleep. Jimmée’s quiet, calm tone reminds me of Bob Ross. I feel those relaxing tingles and can finally let go.
To explore the benefits of ASMR, potential triggers, and other relaxation techniques and tools, log into the Sanity & Self app today!
About the Author
Crystal Ponti is a freelance journalist who often writes about her own struggles with depression, anxiety, and weird phobias. When she is not immersed in written word, she can be found recording them for her popular history podcast, Historium Unearthia, which tackles, among other things, the forgotten women of our past. You can visit Crystal online at www.mommifried.com.