ASMR: Weird Fetish or Legitimate Sleeping Aid?

Pictured: ASRM Youtuber AngelicasLabyrinth. 

As I sit down to write this article, I’m listening to ASMR Zeitgeist’s 3-hour “Turquoise Triggers for Sleep” on YouTube. It’s soothing enough to settle me into the writing zone but won’t excite me to distraction like music can.

If you didn’t know, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) refers to the tingly sensation you get in the back of your head when you hear something particularly pleasant. For some people it goes all the way down their spine. Since the discovery of this phenomenon, production of ASMR-inducing videos has witnessed rapid growth. Now many ASMRtists receive a stable income from viewer contributions and ad revenues. It’s gone so mainstream that W magazine has invited celebrities to try their hands at it. Honestly, if it goes any more mainstream I might have to give it up.

The fact that there are apps and headphones developed just for ASMR really attests to the size of the community. When I lay on my bed tonight, I’ll be switching on my Tingles app. I’ll pull up a video from my favourite artist Trigger Happy ASMR and let the rhythmic sounds of his fingers rubbing together lull me to sleep. Normally it only takes 15 minutes for me to fall asleep but I like to be on the safe side and set the sleep timer to 45 minutes. You don’t want to lay awake at 1am suddenly hyper aware of the silence that befell your room.

These days artists like ASMR Zeitgeist regularly churn out 3- or 4-hour long videos. Production quality is so good you sometimes wonder if it’s necessary. You get science fiction ASMR videos complete with entire storylines and special effects animation. They can be more responsive to current affairs than the BBC. My personal favourite is probably “TORTOISE EATING CORONAVIRUS ASMR TURTLE”.

I guess it’s not wrong to say it’s weird when videos like “Nun Takes Care of You in the 1300s (You Have The Plague)”, “Let Me Restore You – An Art Restoration Binaural ASMR Role Play”, and “ASMR – History of the French Revolution: Introduction” (a personal favourite) exist, but for people like me who struggle to fall asleep, ASMR is a gift from Hypnos. And that’s what the community tries to emphasize – that ASMR is meant to be relaxing, not erotic, though Jennifer Allen who coined the term did mean “climax” when she says “meridian”. Plus it’s hard to dispute the fact that many ASMR videos are sexually explicit.

Ultimately, ASMR videos are a lot like porn in many ways. There’s enough out there to last you a lifetime but new ones are still made every day; and you’d always think you’d last longer than you do so you’ll always pick one that’s far too long.

[Ka Leung – she/her]

[Photo credit: instagram.com/angelicaslabyrinth]

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