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How ASMR Can Help You Relax And Fall Asleep: Tiny Habits

Tingle, tingle, tingle.

Welcome to Tiny Habits, HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s Tiny Habit: ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response)

For whenever you’re feeling: Really tired but you can’t sleep; stressed and anxious.

What it is: ASMR is the tingling sensation people get when they watch stimulating videos that can include personal attention, whispering, nail tapping, hand movement, and more.

According Psychology Today, the term was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, who wanted to create an official sounding name for a sensory phenomenon, and who went on to create a Facebook group dedicated to ASMR research and support.

There are now millions of YouTube videos dedicated to ASMR. Some of our favourite ASMR YouTubers are:

The most popular ASMR YouTube channel’s (SAS-ASMR, with nearly eight million subscribers) most popular video, with more than 40 million views, shows the host eating an “extremely sticky” honeycomb for 12 minutes.

How it can help: Although there is no science to back up anecdotal claims of the benefits of ASMR, many people on the internet swear by its uses, including:

  • Helping them relax
  • Helping them fall asleep
  • Experience a pleasant tingling sensation at the crown of their head and down their arms

“Basically, it feels like the amazing chills you get when someone plays with your hair or traces your back with their fingertips,” Heather Feather, a popular YouTuber who makes ASMR videos, told TwentyTwoWords.com.

There are many different types of ASMR, and what kind “triggers” you will vary. Maybe you enjoy crinkling and tapping; maybe you enjoy personal attention (Sophie Michelle ASMR has dozens of personal attention videos such as “Makeup Artist Gets You Ready Backstage,” “Getting You To Sleep,” and “Dermatologist Skin Care Consultation and Extraction”). Maybe you enjoy unboxing, soft speaking, role play, hair brushing. Or maybe you just want to feel like you’re at the spa.

Although we don’t yet know why we react to these videos, Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, said there might be scientific basis for these triggers — the pleasant feeling you get when you watch these videos.

Perhaps ASMR is a type of seizure. Seizures can sometime be pleasurable, and can be triggered by these sorts of things,” Novella wrote in a 2012 post on NeuroLogica Blog.

“Or, ASMR could just be a way of activating the pleasure response. Vertebrate brains are fundamentally hardwired for pleasure and pain — for positive and negative behavioral feedback. We are rewarded with a pleasurable sensation for doing things and experiencing things that increase our survival probability, and have a negative or painful experience to make us avoid harmful behavior or warn us about potential danger or injury.”

Where you can do it: We suggest watching ASMR videos at home, in bed, with noise-cancelling headphones on to get the best experience.

How it makes us feel: Super relaxed, sleepy, happy.

Read more:

And that’s your Tiny Habit of the day.

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