What is ASMR?

Image:George Weed/TOWER

Maybe a bunch of you already know but whatever…

In 2010,  Jennifer Allen coined the term “autonomous sensory meridian response“(ASMRin 2010.

I’ll just quote from the wikipedia article:

a term used for an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia.[1][2] ASMR signifies the subjective experience of “low-grade euphoria” characterised by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It is most commonly triggered by specific acoustic, visual and digital media stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attentional control.[3][4]


Is it like chills?

The tingling sensation that characterises ASMR has been compared and contrasted to ‘frisson’..a brief sensation usually reported as pleasurable and often expressed as an overwhelming emotional response to stimuli, such as a piece of music. Frisson often occurs simultaneously with piloerection, colloquially known as ‘goosebumps’


Being triggered can be a good thing.


ASMR is usually precipitated by stimuli referred to as ‘triggers’.[18] ASMR triggers, which are most commonly acoustic and visual, may be encountered through the interpersonal interactions of daily life. Additionally, ASMR is often triggered by exposure to specific audio and video. Such media may be especially made with the specific purpose of triggering ASMR, or originally created for other purposes and later discovered to be effective as a trigger of the experience.[3]

Uninentional and intentional media

The most popular source of stimuli reported by subjects to be effective in triggering ASMR is video. Videos reported to be effective in triggering ASMR fall into two categories, identified and named by the community as ‘Intentional’ and ‘Unintentional’. Intentional media is created by those known within the community as ‘ASMRtists’ with the purpose of triggering ASMR in viewers and listeners. Unintentional media is that made for other purposes, often before attention was drawn to the phenomenon in 2007, but which some subjects discover to be effective in triggering ASMR.[41][54] Popular examples of unintentional media as several journalists have noted is of famed painter Bob Ross and his videos on YouTube triggering the effect on many of the viewers[55][56]


People who don’t experience ASMR can listen to and/or watch ASMR media to relax or to help them sleep. Therapy role-play can be therapeutic.

Clinical role play triggers

Among the category of intentional ASMR videos that simulate the provision of personal attention is a subcategory of those specifically depicting the ‘ASMRtist’ providing clinical or medical services, including routine general medical examinations. The creators of these videos make no claims to the reality of what is depicted, and the viewer is intended to be aware that they are watching and listening to a simulation, performed by an actor. Nonetheless, many subjects attribute therapeutic outcomes to these and other categories of intentional ASMR videos, and there are voluminous anecdotal reports of their effectiveness in inducing sleep for those susceptible to insomnia, and assuaging a range of symptoms including those associated with depressionanxiety, and panic attacks.[30][31][32]

ASMR article

While it is a real phenomenon, it remains unproven scientifically or clinically. I always thought asmr is subconscious womb/newborn memories.

The study is still ongoing, and results have not yet been published. But for his part, Richard has been developing a theory of what ASMR is and why it exists. His theory isn’t exactly scientific, but it is beautiful: He notes that the quality that underlies almost all ASMR videos is what’s been called a “tranquil, womb-like intimacy.” That is, ASMRtists speak softly into the ears of headphone-wearing viewers, gently coaxing them to sleep by way of assiduous personal attention, comforting words, smiles and simulated stroking. At its most essential level, Richard believes, all the intimacy channeled through towel foldings and whispered affection is about triggering the felt experience of being loved.

Richard and his team ask participants to rank the way they’d most prefer to experience ASMR, if YouTube weren’t the only option. (Data from the Swansea University study shows most people have their first ASMR experiences as children, through real-life interactions with family and friends.) “Receiving light touches with my eyes closed” ranked first; sound triggers were below and visual ones lower still—an echo, Richards says, of how the senses develop in human beings.

“When a newborn is born, the sensation that is the most developed and they receive the most information through is touch, and the one that’s least developed is sight,” he says. Parents show infants love most of all through touch, he argues—coddling, stroking—and all of this helps explain why ASMR is, at its best, an in-person experience with echoes of childhood experiences.

Smithsonian magazine article


Youtube has literally thousands of ASMR videos so here’s just a few:



Bob Ross – Mountain at Sunset



[ASMR] Ultimate reiki tingles for sleep

[ASMR] Sleep Clinic Roleplay – Trigger Test (Whispered) 

Pokémon GO[to Sleep] (ASMR Roleplay w/lots of great sounds!)



  • Do you experience ASMR?
  • If not, do you wish you could?
  • Do you listen/watch ASMR media to relax, to alleviate depression/anxiety, or to help you sleep?


Feel free to recommend a video or content creator.