If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. We’re in the midst of a “global sleep crisis” according to the scientists who penned a worldwide study that blames our insomnia on the pressures of modern life.
Our low grade sleep is responsible, they say, for a litany of health and social problems. The only winners, it would seem, are the makers of Ambien, Halcion and Zopiclone.
And, more recently, the purveyors of ASMR.
ASMR is short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, “a calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation” that starts at the scalp and can spread throughout the body.
For those who experience it, and not everyone does, the feeling can be triggered by many different things depending on the person: the sound of whispering, hair brushing, pages being turned, tapping of fingernails, etc.
The sensation is so soothing, it can send susceptible subjects into a sound sleep.
YouTube is overflowing with videos produced by ASMR artists who voice or act out the trigger behaviors for their many followers. One of the most popular ASMR artists online, Maria of Gentle Whispering, has 1.5 million subscribers.
Science doesn’t know why ASMR works for some of us and not for others, or why it works at all. But if you’re tired of taking medication to sleep, it’s worth a shot and the price is right - all you need is your smart phone or tablet.
The secret is to find a voice that works for you, preferably talking about a mundane subject like a grocery flyer or folding towels.
Then you get into bed, put on headphones or ear buds, and just listen (watching the video isn’t always necessary to get the effect.)
If you’re susceptible to ASMR, the mind and muscle relaxation usually begins very shortly. You may get tingles or you may just experience a full-body release of tension that beckons you to the Land of Nod.
And that’s not all ASMR can do, as these fans of the Gentle Whispering channel commented:
J Pdza: Me and the hubby were trying to conceive, one rule they told us was to not stress and just relax… And guess what! Just found out I’m expecting!
SiCiliAN lOVE xox: I have a house full of family over for a bday dinner and it's quite crazy here so I'm literally sitting in my middle of the dining room table listening to this to stay sane.
Last year, the first scientific study on ASMR came out of the UK. It found that those who “get” ASMR had lower heart rates when watching the videos (three fewer beats per minute) compared to those who don’t. They also had more positive feelings like relaxation and a sense of social connection.
So. ASMR is real. It’s 100 per cent natural. It has no side effects or drug interactions. And it’s yours for the taking. May the ZZZs be with you.