What is ASMR?


Have you ever felt tingles in your head and deeply relaxed while getting a haircut, listening to someone turn magazine pages, listening to a specific person talk in a gentle manner, or while watching Bob Ross create a painting?

If so, then you have probably experienced Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR).

ASMR is becoming increasingly popular around the world and with celebrities.  A driving reason is that it seems to be very helpful for reducing stress and falling asleep.

A common way to experience ASMR is to watch ASMR videos or to listen to ASMR podcasts.  These recordings are either a direct recording of real life situations which trigger ASMR, or are simulations of the voices, sounds, behaviors, and moments in real life which tend to trigger ASMR.

Learn more about solitary ASMR vs partner ASMR HERE.

Sensations and Stimuli

ASMR can be described simply as a variety of soothing SENSATIONS (eg, tingles, relaxation, calmness, sleepiness) due to a variety of gentle STIMULI (eg, whispering, soft talking, light touches, methodical sounds).

The ASMR sensations can be categorized into:

  • Physical sensations:  light and pleasurable tingles, sparkles, fuzziness, or waves in the head, neck, spine, and throughout the rest of the body.
  • Psychological sensations: deep and soothing feelings of relaxation, calmness, comfort, peacefulness, restfulness, or sleepiness.

The ASMR stimuli (often called “ASMR triggers”) can be categorized into:

  • Externally initiated (AKA, Type B ASMR):
    • In person ASMR
      • 4 Types: Learn more HERE
      • Examples: getting a haircut, someone whispering to you
    • Transmitted ASMR
      • 2 Types: recorded file or live transmission
      • Examples: ASMR videos, ASMR podcasts
  • Internally initiated (AKA, Type A ASMR):
    • Auto-stimulated ASMR
      • 2 Types: self-initiated or spontaneous
      • Examples: focused thinking, meditation, unclear stimulus

Externally initiated ASMR stimuli/triggers can be:

  • Tactile (felt): light touch, massage, hair touching, grooming, physical examination
  • Visual (seen): eye contact, observing hand movements
  • Auditory (heard):
    • Spoken sounds: soft, whispering, slow, gentle, increased pitch, caring, monotone
    • Oral sounds: mouth sounds, chewing sounds, blowing sounds
    • Object sounds: tapping, scratching, cutting, crinkling, stroking, handling of objects

Common traits of ASMR stimuli/triggers:

Although there is a huge variety of ASMR stimuli/triggers, they generally tend to be repetitive, methodical, gentle, at a steady pace, and at low and/or steady volume.

The common theme to ASMR triggers is that they possess the universal patterns of non-threatening stimuli.  This may be the key to their ability to induce relaxation.  You can read more about biological and evolutionary theories HERE.

Intentional vs Unintentional ASMR:

The individuals who purposely create these stimuli are called ASMR artists (AKA ASMRtists, content creators) and their productions are called “intentional ASMR”.  The most common examples are YouTube video artists, but also include composers, poets, dancers, and more.

Stimuli/triggers created accidentally by individuals are called “unintentional ASMR”.   Examples include Bob Ross, teachers, hairdressers, clinicians, unboxing videos, and expert demonstrations.

Individuals who intentionally or unintentionally elicit ASMR in others tend to have the following dispositions: kind, caring, empathic, attentive, focused, trustworthy, dedicated, expert, and a calm vocal tone.

ASMR scenarios and role-plays:

Some of the strongest triggers for ASMR are “scenarios” which include a mix of stimuli/trigger types and involve someone with an ASMR disposition.  For example, watching Bob Ross paint includes a mix of audio triggers (gentle tapping sounds), visual triggers (methodical and expert hand movements), and Bob Ross’s gentle disposition.

If the scenarios are created on purpose to stimulate ASMR then they are called “ASMR role-plays”.  These are commonly performed by ASMR artists on YouTube.

General ASMR scenarios include: instructional demonstrations, methodical task completion, personal attention, focused activities, and consultations.  These scenarios may involve the person as a participant or as an observer.

Specific ASMR scenarios include: spa treatments, cranial nerve exams, hair salon visits, origami paper folding, unboxings, magazine page-turning, and soft spoken men painting methodically on canvas.

The benefits of ASMR:

Internet videos of individuals purposely simulating real-life ASMR triggers have grown widely popular in the last few years.  Viewers find many of these videos as relaxing as real-life ASMR triggers and quite helpful for falling asleep, de-stressing, and providing comfort during a sad time.

Some individuals with clinical diagnoses of medical disorders report that these videos are helpful to their insomnia, anxiety, panic disorders and/or depression.

The evidence for the potential benefit of ASMR for stress disorders, sleep disorders, mood disorders and more is slowly growing – read more HERE.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot to learn about the physiology of ASMR and the true effectiveness of ASMR for medical disorders.  That is why the mission of this website is to promote the awareness, understanding, and research of ASMR.

Learn more about ASMR:

Contribute to the Understanding of ASMR:

For the complete list of ASMR topics on this website:

Prefer to snuggle up with a book or ebook to learn about ASMR?

Brain Tingles” the How-To Guide by Dr. Craig Richard

Learn all about ASMR and how to stimulate  that blissful feeling in those around you – with your gentle voice, light touch, hypnotic actions, and caring behaviors.

Lull a child to sleep, soothe a stressed family member, relax a friend or romantic partner, create ASMR videos, or add it as a relaxation technique to your spa, health studio, wellness center, or counseling sessions.

This book will help you to understand and apply the techniques, tools, and secrets for every ASMR trigger type, along with hundreds of examples.

Available on Amazon, or learn more HERE.

Website mission: to increase the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. (How to cite)

Website founder: Dr. Richard (AboutContact)

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27 thoughts on “What is ASMR?

  1. Pingback: ASMR Gaming Whisper: Stardew Valley Pt. 2 – Gone Fishing! | Fishing Shop

  2. Pingback: Votre ami… le sommeil – La Gazette du Malin-Firmier

  3. Muted vacuum cleaner noise from a distance. I first experienced this soothing/tingly sensation when I was sick with chicken pox as a very young child. Now, when the very long hallway in my condo is being vacuumed, I get the same response. I remember the same pleasant relaxation when watching or listening to people performing a variety of activities. Didn’t know there was a name for it or that others have the same experience. Never questioned it–just enjoyed it. Right now there are leaf blowers outside, and they are simply too loud to be anything except annoying.


  4. Never knew it even had a name. Have always had it, but lately, after developing a brain tumor, it became so intense and sensitive, so that any trigger would send me into non-ending shivers….


  5. Recuerdo haber tenido esas sensaciones desde pequeña y las disfrutaba (y disfruto) mucho pero no sé por qué pensaba que todo el mundo tenía esa experiencia. Ha sido impactante para mí descubrir todo esto.

    Liked by 1 person

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