ASMR and relaxation: how does it work?

ASMR is an acronym coined in 2010 that stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It identifies a physical response consisting of deep relaxation and/or tingles that start at the scalp and spread throughout the rest of the body. This response is caused by listening to certain sounds or watching specific objects, body or hand movements.
Stimuli that precede the physical response are usually called triggers because they trigger instinctive reactions.

What does ASMR do to your body?

ASMR originates from signals that are generated in the cerebral cortex and spread throughout the autonomic nervous system. 
When signals reach peripheral areas of the body they report perceived sensations. When, on the other hand, these stimuli cause a slowing of activity in certain areas of the brain, the person is induced to sleep.

ASMR studies and discoveries

ASMR is a universal but at the same time unique feeling that is activated by different stimuli depending on the person and it’s experienced by only certain people.
Different studies have tried to figure out what kind of person is most predisposed.

  • Northumbria University’s Department of Psychology, led by Charlotte Eid and her academic supervisor Dr Joanna Greer.

This study must be credited with confirming that people with high levels of anxiety who already knew ASMR are more likely to experience it. 
Although this seems logical considering that people who seek it often do so for therapeutic reasons, the results of the study also suggest that ASMR may generally have anxiety-reducing effects.
Thus, people who are more prone to anxiety disorders may benefit from ASMR even without experiencing the classic tingling sensation.

  • Barratt and Davis’s study called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response: a flow-like mental state.

Barratt and Davies also noted that 80% of people who perceived ASMR sensations experienced a positive mood effect. 
Among all the participants in their study, those with lower mood levels benefited the most. 

This appears to be a common point in both studies: the more prone people are to depression, the more ASMR sessions tend to elevate their mood.

Barratt and Davies add that ASMR seems to work in momentarily relieving the suffering associated with these kinds of disorders, and very surprisingly, this seems to occur (at least in about 50% of cases) even without people experiencing tingles. 
In conclusion, ASMR is a practice that acts only on the symptom and therefore it cannot be considered enough for the treatment but it seems to have its usefulness.

From Youtube to the world

Since 2010 ASMR has been gaining momentum on Youtube and currently there are millions of such videos on the platform.
The increasing amount of people who know and use it has led many companies to create specific marketing and social campaigns. Brands such as Coca Cola, Ikea and Apple create this kind of social content.
Even the world of fashion is not immune: we find examples in Zara or Prada.

Back in 2016 W Magazine was one of the first to adopt this trend by continuing to periodically publish a series of ASMR celebrities interviews which generate millions of views. 

What about you? Have you found your favourite trigger yet?


My hairstyle has a life of its own and likes to change a lot; My phone is always nearby but I still manage to miss every call; Netflix constantly asks me “Are you still watching?”. Passionate reader, restless writer.

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