Have you ever felt a euphoric, tingly response to soft voices or quiet noises? It could be a light tingling in your extremities or a shiver from your head down your spine, a little something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR.
This strange sensation has sparked a trend on YouTube, and now really long videos of people flipping through magazines or folding towels are getting millions of views. Sounds weird, right?
But it seems like there's something to this strange phenomenon. At least, the numbers on the YouTube channels don't lie. Over 7 million views and counting on a video of a woman whispering, tapping her nails on a wooden hairbrush, and blowing smoke into a microphone.
Now, some of you may think that's pretty weird. And I'll admit, I was pretty skeptical too. But you have to watch the video before you judge.
Check out the video below and see if any of her actions trigger ASMR for you. Don't worry, it's not as weird as you think.
Did you get tingly? Don't worry if you didn't, I didn't either. Apparently, though, this ASMR phenomenon can occur whenever someone hears, smells, sees, tastes or touches something that triggers a release of seratonin, oxytocin and endorphins. In a small study, it was found to be similar to the chemicals released by an infant when it's comforted by its mother.
For example, have you ever heard a song that just made goose bumps stand up on your arms? It's a bit like that. Many of the videos also "role-play" as hair stylists brushing or cutting hair, a masseuse folding towels, or a librarian flipping slowly through old books.
The star behind the most successful ASMR video, Maria, explains the feeling like this: "It’s like showers of sparkles, ... It’s like warm sand being poured all over you, trickling over your head and down into your shoulders. It’s like goose bumps on your brain."
For a lot of people, this "brain tingle" can soothe and calm nerves and help them when they're depressed. Maria has had people write in and thank her for her videos, saying that they've helped with depression, insomnia and panic attacks.
Don't get me wrong, this should not in any way replace any medication or treatment from certified doctors. But it's a fun - albeit interesting - way to calm your body.
ASMR is a relatively new and little-studied phenomenon, but it is currently being studied in more depth at the Yale University of Medicine. In the meantime, folks will continue to enjoy Maria and other ASMRtists' videos.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.