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Brain-Tingling 'ASMR' May Be Good for the Rest of Your Body, Study Suggests

Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

If you've been feeling anxious lately, you may have heard about the brain-tingling sensation "ASMR" as a possible stress reliever. Then again, ASMR is a relatively new internet phenomenon, so it's not quite as mainstream as mindfulness or listening to music for stress relief. But according to new research, ASMR might actually be more helpful for some people than originally thought.

What is ASMR?

ASMR is a commonly used abbrieviation for "autonomous sensory meridian response," which is an enjoyable tingling sensation that some people get in response to certain stimulating videos, activities, or sounds. The origins of the name can be traced back to 2010, thanks to a Facebook user named Jennifer Allen who wanted to give a name to the experience shared by so many who watch these stimulations, which often include simple actions such as whispering, brushing a microphone, and tapping a container. While popular ASMR videos boast millions of views on YouTube, little scientific evidence has supported the practice of ASMR experiencers watching these videos — until now, that is.

Health Benefits of ASMR

A June 2018 study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE suggests that ASMR has the potential to lower the heart rate and improve overall health and well-being. To get to these results, researchers did two studies: a research experiment of more than 1,000 participants who watched ASMR videos and control videos online, and a study of 110 volunteers who watched ASMR videos and control videos in a controlled lab setting.

Fans of ASMR have long publicly praised the videos for helping them relax and helping them sleep, but the study suggested benefits extend far beyond those. For instance, the online survey showed that people who experience ASMR often also report higher levels of excitement and calmness, in addition to lower levels of sadness and stress. As for the lab experiment, ASMR experiencers had a slower heart rate than those who didn't experience the same sensations. Researchers linked it to a "relaxing effect" the videos had on some of those participants.

"What's interesting is that the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants was comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness," said lead author Giulia Poerio, PhD, in an interview with Medical News Today.

Popular ASMR Videos

It's worth keeping in mind that some people report not experiencing ASMR, so it's perfectly OK if you don't. But if you've never tried watching ASMR videos before, why not give them a whirl? You never know — you could find your next lullaby!

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