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Articles > Mental Health March, 13, 2016

This Phenomenon Explains Your Weird Youtube Watching

March, 13, 2016

Jenny Edwards Student Panel member. Member since September 2014.
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Ever since I was young, I’ve always experienced a pleasant tingly feeling when listening to the little scratching sounds while watching someone drawing, or certain other sounds like typing. Little did I know that several years later, I’d learn that this odd, yet hypnotic reaction actually had a name, which is ASMR. Never heard of it? Well I think that should change…

ASMR braingasm

A picture that kind of shows what a braingasm might look like

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and the best way I can describe it is similar to the sensation brought on by the strange, alien-looking head massagers found in trinket shops. However the feeling is triggered by sound (and sometimes visuals) as opposed to touch.

There are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of ASMR videos online, and you’ve probably come across one of them at some point during a late-night YouTube binge. You probably clicked away from it because you thought you had crossed over to the “weird” side of YouTube and I admit, coming across an ASMR video without experiencing the sensation, or knowing what the term is could be pretty bizarre.

“not everybody understands nor accepts the idea of ASMR because it can come across as quite ‘creepy’…some people do find ASMR somewhat erotic “

Typically, ASMR videos involve a lot of whispering, with the speaker very close to their camera’s microphone. They tap on objects, crinkle them, unbox products, and sometimes they even eat – there are endless videos on YouTube, so there naturally must be one out there to relax everyone.

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As ASMR becomes increasingly more popular online, there are, like with any other trend, more and more judgmental reactions to the videos coming to surface. Obviously, not everybody can understand or accept the idea of ASMR. To some, it can come across as quite “creepy,” especially if someone else is watching it with you or even standing nearby. When watched without the intention of being relaxed, ASMR videos can also appear slightly unusual. The induced intimacy between speaker and listener has often created a lot of controversy around whether people see ASMR as sexual or not. According to some YouTube comments it appears that some people do find ASMR somewhat erotic, but from what I’ve seen, they’re among a minority.

ASMR video on YouTube

Tony Bomboni is one of many YouTubers who has a dedicated ASMR channel

Apparently, there isn’t much science to explain ASMR, so there’s no knowing what percentage of the population actually experience it, or even why people experience it in the first place. However, a lot of people online, especially in YouTube comments, have stated that some ASMR videos are so relaxing and soothing that their effects have actually helped ease anxiety. Others have stated that it helps them deal with their insomnia as well. Some YouTube channels now offer sleep clinics for those with insomnia, proving that ASMR does indeed have productive side-effects.

The calming nature of the videos, alongside the suggestion that they evoke childhood memories of being put to sleep by parents, could contribute to how successful ASMR is in terms of improving peoples’ states of mind. For me especially, ASMR helps most effectively during exam season. Due to its evident psychological benefits, I firmly feel as if ASMR should be taken more seriously, and studied in much more depth than it currently is.

Does anyone else experience ASMR?


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  1. Samiya
    March 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

    YES! Asmr is sooooo calming there are even 10 hour ASMR sound videos that help calm nerves and reduce stress when you study and help you concentrate better than studying with music. You get a good quality of sleep with it better than if you would without it I suggest listening to Laura Lemurex and ASMRrequests blisss

  2. Tuesday Irvine
    September 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    That’s so true!! I was wondering if that was like a natural response. Very informative article.

  3. Hadleigh Perry
    May 3, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    This actually clears so much up for me now! I have always found it easier to do so many things – like studying, relaxing and even falling asleep – with music playing and I never knew why!!! Thank you!

  4. Hadleigh Perry
    May 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    this actually explains a lot, when I get into a rhythm when typing on my keyboard I get lost in it and I can just keep typing until my mind goes blank and I cannot think anymore! This has actually made me realise that there is actually a logical reason as to why I get so caught up in ideas when on my laptop and makes sense as to why I can study or sleep better with music playing!!

  5. Max Sandeman
    March 30, 2016 at 9:18 am

    You learn something new everyday

  6. Name
    March 8, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    True

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