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?
A research study came out this week that is relevant to one of my prior posts (pasted in below).
This research supports the concern that the light from an electronic device can interfere with sleep.
The study is published in PNAS, a well respected journal.
The authors showed that reading from an iPad (compared to a printed book) increased the time it took to fall asleep, reduced melatonin secretion, and reduced morning alertness.
Click HERE to access the research abstract.
Using a laptop, tablet, or phone at bedtime is pretty common these days. And watching an ASMR video to help relax the brain before nodding off is becoming even more common.
But there could be a problem with this method of relaxation.
Several studies have shown that being exposed to light from a computer screen at bedtime can interfere with sleep onset and/or sleep quality.
So how do computer screens interfere with sleep?
I wrote a recent post about the potential involvement of the neurotransmitter GABA in ASMR.
Well, some scientists have recently published a study which has determined that GABA is responsible for deep sleep.
This means that if ASMR does raise GABA levels, then this neurotransmitter may help to explain how ASMR helps individuals to fall asleep and/or attain a deeper, more satisfying sleep.
The study was published in Nature Neuroscience, which validates the quality and importance of the research.
It is not a real surprise that GABA is involved in sleep. It has been known for a while that GABA is very good at getting neurons to quiet down.
So what did this study specifically determine?
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.
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.
Residents of many developed countries are having increased problems with not getting enough sleep and gaining too many pounds.
Many individuals that experience ASMR would quickly point out that ASMR helps them to fall asleep – which may be resulting in increased sleep for these individuals.
If increased sleep resulted in increased weight loss then that would be a lovely ‘two-for’ eh?
Well, some scientists believe there may be a solid connection between those two.
A recent article in USA today discussed this topic and highlighted some current science and theories that decreased sleep may be a cause of increased weight gain. And therefore more sleep may result in more weight loss and/or less weight gain.
Sleep the pounds away? Too good to be true? Continue reading
Yes, watching one ASMR video can immediately make your brain 15 years younger.
No. Sorry to disappoint you.
That is not disappointing at all to someone who is 15 years old, who wants to go back to drooling and diapers?!
Do you have any real science to report today or is this just the world’s most misleading post?
Yes, I do have some real science to report today that can be related to ASMR.
OK, let’s hear it.
You bet. It can be a challenge for pregnant women to fall asleep each night, especially in the third trimester.
Why is that?
Put a small animal under your shirt and try to fall asleep.
Hence, pregnant women often suffer from poor sleep. So perhaps listening to ASMR audio could help them to fall asleep.
And pregnant women who get more sleep may be less likely to have children that grow up to be overweight.
That seems like a pretty bold statement. Is there recent research to support that?
Sorta. Continue reading
Yes, but not directly.
If ASMR helps you to get more sleep then that could result in less toxic chemicals in your brain, in a way that I will explain shortly.
Was this research done with ASMR and humans? Nope, it was just done with sleep-deprived non-human animals.
Which animals exactly?
Curiously, the news article that I linked to at the end of this post did not say what species. Mice or rats are a good guess though.
Where was the research done? At the Metropolitan Autonomous University.
“Autonomous” University?! Say what-huh.
Am I messing with you? Continue reading