By Emma - WhispersRedASMR
We speak to Emma (WhsipersRedASMR on YouTube) to find out more about ASMR, and how it has helped people across the globe.
Q: What is ASMR?
A: ASMR is a physical sensation is often described as 'tingles' that usually begins in the crown of the head, and makes its way down the spine and often through the limbs. It's relaxing and meditative and if triggered before bed it can be a great aid in falling asleep. An ASMR video is made using certain sounds, such as soft speaking or whispering to induce this feeling in the viewer.
Q: Who do you believe benefits most from ASMR?
A: Hundreds of thousands of people watch ASMR videos and benefit greatly from them in a variety of ways. My viewers tell me that they help overcome insomnia, anxiety, depression and pain among other things. From feedback I have received so far most people are using them to fall asleep to. Watching an ASMR video which is so slow and quiet provides some peaceful time to put aside what might be in your head, before sleep.
Q: When was your first ASMR experience?
A: I have always experienced ASMR and don't remember a first event. There are many experiences I remember as a child such as in the classroom when the teacher would read a story softly, having my hair played with, personal attention at the opticians or having a haircut. There was so many!
Q: Have you ever struggled with an illness that ASMR helped?
A: I was diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident some time ago. Just as my symptoms were beginning to show I discovered ASMR videos on YouTube. Triggering my head tingles before sleep helped me greatly in clearing the mind so that I could sleep through the night. If I didn't sleep so well I believe my therapy would have been less effective and my recovery much slower.
Q: How do you experience ASMR in everyday life?
A: There are many day-to-day life instances where the ASMR feeling can occur. For me it comes when I have a haircut or eye test and sometimes from sounds in the house. I often get it when I am home alone and all I can hear is the fridge whirring, that gives me tingles and I go off into a daydream. In a job I used to have there was a client with a soft voice and a lovely accent. I used to love speaking with her on the phone! Many people used to watch jewellery demonstrations on the shopping channel before they discovered videos. Also Bob Ross is a bit of a cult figure to the ASMR community now.
Q: Does it have an effect on how people sleep?
A: From my experience so far I do believe that it does. Interrupted nights were a common occurrence for me but after watching an ASMR video before bed every night I sleep right through. I usually watch one video then have one playing in the background whilst I fall asleep. Recently there has been lots of interest in the theory that ASMR videos may cause an increase in our Oxytocin levels which allow us to feel calm and relaxed enough to enjoy better quality sleep. I'm sure most of us miss being tucked up in bed as a child, having your hair stroked, a story read to or sang to you. Watching an ASMR video before bed feels very much like that childhood experience.
Q: What are the main triggers you have noticed?
A: There are so many triggers and everyone has their own preferences. The most popular I hear about on my channel’s comments are; soft speaking, whispering, tapping and fabric sounds i.e. the sound of my shirt or jacket as I move around. I liken that to the sound of the sheets against your ears as you tuck yourself in at night or waves on the sand.
Q: What are the most fascinating facts on ASMR?
A: Probably the most fascinating fact for me is not everyone experiences the ASMR sensation. It seems to be a certain sensitivity that not everyone has or needs in their lives. Another thing that fascinates me every day is how kind people can be in the comments on videos. The ASMR community is filled with such loving and sensitive people.
Q: Do you feel ASMR is a safe place for those with anxiety?
A: Yes I feel that ASMR videos themselves can be a safe haven when feeling anxious. To have another person speak directly to you very calmly when you feel that way is wonderful and I often feel it is a positive distraction technique, something easily accessible when needed.
Q: What is the ASMR community like?
A: The ASMR community online is a great place to connect with other likeminded people all over the world. There are many different people with contrasting lives and experiences but the one thing I feel most have in common is sensitivity. Since connecting with so many people from everywhere, personally I have learned more tolerance in my life and a better understanding of people in general. We are all very much the same, experiencing life as it is presented to us and we all do our best to thrive within our environment.
Q: What health benefits have you seen in yourself?
A: I have always had a fairly calm presence but even more so now. I understand myself better, have more confidence and feel more in tune with my body and spirit. The ASMR feeling and the videos have been immensely helpful to me. The feeling calms me and to be able to trigger it before sleep helps me to get better quality sleep. If we can sleep well we can achieve so much more in our daily lives. If we can be calm for the majority of our time we can regenerate physically and heal more efficiently.
Q: Is it in some way a form of mediation?
A: I believe that the feeling can be a quick route to meditation. Personally when entering a meditative state, the tingly feeling comes first. I feel it in my head and back which leads me to focus on the rest of my body to arrive in a state of presence. For those who aren't used to meditating or live mostly on high alert, it's lovely to have videos to guide you into a state of relaxation, it's much less daunting that way. Of course as we're all used to looking at a screen, finding relaxation that way also feels less alien.
Q: What is the feedback you get on your videos?
A: It's usually around 10pm GMT Wednesday's and Sunday's when my videos go live. At that moment the comments start coming in instantly. I read and answer some before bed and by the morning there are often hundreds more. It really does astound me that people all over the world connect with each other through the comments. There is a common thread of openness and kind expression. The vast majority of feedback is hugely positive and ranges from stories of childhood triggers, favourite triggers, what to do in future videos to how ASMR videos are helping someone through a difficult time. I receive emails, Facebook messages & video comments every day from lovely people letting me know what their life situation was or is and how the videos make a difference. People living in war zones, people recovering from drug addiction, illness, loss of loved ones, a stressful job to those working shifts, taking a moment to relax, needing quiet sound on in the background to study. I hear from all of them and each story is different. It's truly an enlightening experience and shows me that we are all experiencing life from our own perspectives, trying to do our best to be the best we can.
Does ASMR change lives?
Ultimately I believe we change our own lives. For many, finding comfort and a way to fall asleep peacefully in ASMR videos is an important tool. I do believe that ASMR helps to change lives, people tell me everyday. In fact I know this to be true from my own experience as it has without a doubt changed mine!
The clinical side to ASMR
Patient's Clinical Editor, Dr Hayley Willacy says: 'There is a lack of scientific evidence that ASMR has any general benefits or harms. Any claimed benefits are based on personal accounts of perception, not on clinical trials that provide data from which general efficacy and safety can be shown.
The Director of General Neurology at Yale medical school has written about the lack of scientific investigation on ASMR, saying that functional MRI should be used to study the brains of people who experience ASMR in comparison to people who do not experience ASMR.
A lecturer in psychology and cognitive sciences from Sheffield University has said, "It might well be a real thing, but it's inherently difficult to research. The inner experience is the point of a lot of psychological investigation, but when you've got something like this that you can't see or feel, and it doesn't happen for everyone, it falls into a blind spot."'