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There is a New Way to Fall Asleep & it’s a Little Strange...

September 06, 2017


ASMR videos: Odd new sleep trend with roots in synaesthesia

The internet can be rather odd place, as the latest trend in personal sleep aids clearly shows. Cue ASMR videos - an emerging YouTube phenomenon that is said to induce relaxing chills and tingling sensations in viewers by means of certain auditory and visual cues.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and refers to an experience characterised 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. (a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of the auditory, or hearing, pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in the tactile, or touch, pathway). In simple terms - people start feeling what they’re hearing and there’s no clear way to explain it.

Below are a few examples of ASMR videos. These videos are usually produced by citizen filmmakers and shared on YouTube, and feature a variety of soothing sounds (or sounds that certain people perceive as soothing), including soft whispering, tapping, brushing on the microphone, etc. Certain videos feature self-care experiences, like having your hair cut (think scissor noises and gently foil crunching), being examined by a very soft-spoken doctor, or getting your makeup done. W Magazine also recently jumped on the ASMR bandwagon with videos of celebrities, including Kate Hudson playing with sequins and cutting fabric with a pair of large scissors.

It sounds really strange and implausible, we know, but neuroscientists are taking the ASMR videos seriously enough to test its validity. Up to date there have been six peer-reviewed papers on the subject, including a dissertation on the personality types of individuals who experience ASMR (not everyone does). Dartmouth's cognitive research team are also examining the neurobiology of the reward system by using fMRI analysis. The theory is that ASMR could be linked to lizard-brain response to nurturing sounds and calming behaviours that replicate infancy, or activate a dormant biological bonding mechanism.

Whether ASMR is a legitimate sleep aid that is not yet fully understood, or simply a mind-over-matter phenomenon based on cognitive susceptibility is yet to be determined. What is definitely evident, however, is that there is a large percentage of the population who battle to sleep so badly that they are willing to try just about anything. Lay the groundwork for good, solid sleep by investing in a mattress that suits your lifestyle needs. Finding a bed that ticks all of your comfort boxes is half the battle won, so take the time to select a mattress that will do just that.


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