Undergraduate student completes research dissertation about ASMR and mood

Georgina Susan Pamela Terzza has recently completed her  BSc in Psychology at the University of Lincoln, England.  She is now pursuing her MSc in Clinical Psychology at the Royal Holloway University of London, England.

For her Bachelor’s Dissertation,  supervised by Dr. Andy Benn, she completed a research project titled, “The effects and benefits of ASMR stimuli on mood.”

For her project, 37 participants (with and without experience watching ASMR videos) watched ASMR videos and completed a survey about their mood.   She found that ASMR videos had a positive effect on mood, and this was independent of prior experience with ASMR videos.

In my interview with Georgina, she provides helpful explanations of her inspiration, goals, methods, findings, interesting moments, and very useful tips for other students researching ASMR.

Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and a link so you can learn more about her.

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Undergraduate student completes research thesis about ASMR and progressive muscle relaxation

Denisa Vondruskova recently received her Bachelor’s Degree from Palacky University in the Czech Republic.

For her Bachelor’s Thesis she completed a research project titled, “ASMR and Jacobson progressive muscle relaxation.”

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique developed by Dr Edmund Jacobson, hence it is also called, “Jacobson progressive muscle relaxation.”  PMR involves tensing and un-tensing muscle groups, progressing from the upper torso to the lower torso.

Both ASMR and PMR can help someone to reduce their stress and fall asleep more easily.  However, ASMR involves a passive process (passive exposure to gentle stimuli) and PMR involves an active process (active tensing and untensing of muscles).

Denisa may be the first researcher to compare the relaxation techniques and effects of ASMR and PMR.

Below is a summary of her methods  and findings, followed by a link to an English summary of her thesis.

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Health benefits of ASMR for anxiety, insomnia, depression, and more.

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityI’ve created a new page for the website titled, “Health Benefits of ASMR.”

The page has a list of conditions which may be improved by experiencing ASMR.  Each condition includes supporting resources such as; published research, ongoing research, testimonials, and supportive articles.

Unfortunately, it will take a lot more research, especially clinical studies, before the potential clinical application of ASMR will be understood.  This new page just highlights some of the initial support that will hopefully assist and inspire other researchers and clinicians to do more studies.

If ASMR has helped you somehow, you can share your experience at the Voices of ASMR project and it will automatically be included to this new page.

If you know of a resource which highlights how ASMR has helped someone, then please send a link to asmruniversity@gmail.com and I’ll add it the page.

A current list of the potential health benefits of ASMR (with links to supporting resources) is below.

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ASMR and plant-based products to help with sleep

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityPeople often stumble across ASMR when searching for natural methods and products to help them sleep.

And on the flip side, some people who have temporarily lost their ability to experience ASMR or do not experience ASMR may seek out other natural methods and products to help them sleep.

One popular category of natural sleep products is ‘plant-based products’, which also may be referred to as ‘nutraceutical sleep therapeutics’, or ‘herbal sleep supplements’.

I recently came across a very well written review article on nutraceutical sleep therapeutics and I wanted to share it (a link to the article is provided below).

The products covered in the article include L-tryptophan, chamomile, cherries, kava kava, valerian, and marijuana.

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ASMR is one of several ways to improve your sleep

I was searching online to see which sites were reporting about the first peer-reviewed publication on ASMR.

One site I came across was http://www.sleepsherpa.com.  The website is run by Ben Trapskin out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and focuses on products for better sleep.

I was impressed that he reported on the ASMR publication and I found his site well organized and informative. He provides insight on mattresses, pillows, bedding, sleep aids, and even books that he feels can improve sleep.

Many individuals report that ASMR is helpful to them because it makes it easier for them to fall asleep. But for anyone, whether they utilize ASMR to fall asleep or not, it can be beneficial to know about additional products and suggestions helpful to a good night’s rest.

Ben shares his tips and experiences with improving his own sleep, information about a pillow that plays sounds which won’t wake your partner, the advantages of using a sleep tracking device, his thoughts about ASMR, and more.

Below are my questions in bold and his replies in italics.

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ASMR and the importance of sleep

Helping people to fall asleep is one of the most widely reported uses for ASMR videos and ASMR triggers.

This is bad news because it highlights the fact that many people are having difficulty getting the right quantity and/or quality of sleep.

And yet, it is also good news because sleep is so important and ASMR could someday be widely supported by clinicians as a sleep aid.

This post will cover several recent research studies about the recommendations, challenges, and problems related to getting a proper quantity and quality of sleep.

And it will conclude with an example of how someone might construct a research study to demonstrate if ASMR can help improve sleep quality.

Lets begin with this question: Do you know how much sleep you should be getting each night?

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The potential involvement of GABA in ASMR

It has been widely reported that many individuals find ASMR helpful to reducing their anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

If there was one neurotransmitter that was known to reduce all three of these disorders then it might be appropriate to theorize the involvement of that neurotransmitter in ASMR.

Well, the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) may be a terrific candidate.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that is widely released throughout the brain.  It is well understood to have an inhibitory effect on most neurons.  Another way to view this is that GABA tends to calm, comfort, and soothe other neurons.

Is GABA involved in treating anxiety disorders?  Yes.  Drugs like Xanax and Valium are benzodiazepines which are anti-anxiety medications.  These kind of drugs reduce anxiety by enhancing the effect of the patient’s natural amounts of GABA.

Is GABA involved in treating sleep disorders?  Yes.  Benzodiazepines are also widely used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.

So are benzodiazepines widely used for depression?  No.  The most common type of medication used to treat depression are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).  These drugs increase the amount of the patient’s natural amount of serotonin.

So GABA has not been viewed strongly as being involved in the therapeutic role of SSRIs for depression.

But a recent research publication in the journal Science challenges that view.

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ASMR and falling asleep

Many individuals report that ASMR is helpful to falling asleep.  So let’s discuss what makes it so hard to fall asleep, and how a new research finding adds a new perspective.

The first major reason can be summarized as “internal stimuli”.  Your brain is receiving stimulatory signals due to things happening inside your body.  This may include stressful thoughts due to reflecting on the day’s events, signals of physical pain due to an injury or chronic disorder, or altered chemical balances due to ingestion or exposure to medications, drugs, diet, or toxins earlier in the day.

The second major reason can be summarized as “external stimuli”.  Your brain is receiving stimulatory signals due to things happening outside your body.  This may include high or low temperatures, strange or threatening smells,  physical stimulation of an uncomfortable mattress or a bug bite, or noises coming from inside or outside your immediate sleeping environment.

This last reason, noises, may be the most common type of external stimuli which inhibit us from easily falling asleep.

A new study published in a top science journal, offers an additional explanation of why this is, and may  also indicate another reason why ASMR may be so helpful to falling asleep.

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Article about ASMR in the NY Times

An article about ASMR recently appeared in the NY Times electronic blog section and in the print version on page D6.

It was a well written article authored by a woman with insomnia who accidentally stumbled on ASMR videos while hoping to find soothing videos of rustling papers.

She explains how she did find some lovely crinkling paper ASMR videos.  These videos ended up helping her with her insomnia better than several other prior treatment types.

The article provided a good overview of ASMR and mentioned some top artists like Maria of Gentle Whispering and Heather Feather.

She also talks about how many of the scientists she reached out to were reluctant to talk about ASMR.

But not all.

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