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ASMR: HEALTH APPLICATIONS, BENEFITS, DRAWBACKS

Mya Care Blogger 18 Mar 2024
ASMR: HEALTH APPLICATIONS, BENEFITS, DRAWBACKS

Have you ever experienced a tingling sensation in your scalp or spine while listening to someone whisper or watching a video of someone folding towels? If so, you may have unknowingly experienced Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR).

ASMR is a phenomenon that has acquired a large amount of popularity in recent years, with millions of people seeking out videos and audio recordings to trigger this pleasurable sensation. Beyond its entertainment value, ASMR has a reputation for its potential health benefits.

This article delves into how ASMR works alongside its benefits and drawbacks.

What is ASMR?

ASMR is a term used to describe a sensory reaction to various stimuli, including the sound of someone whispering or the response to a very light touch. The tingling sensation typically begins in the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and spine. It often induces a deep sense of relaxation and calmness.[1]

The term was coined in 2009 by Jennifer Allen. The phenomenon has gained a massive following recently, with millions of videos and audio recordings explicitly created to trigger this response. Over a quarter of those who appreciate ASMR do so daily for relaxation and better sleep quality.

How Does ASMR Work?

The exact mechanism behind ASMR is still not fully understood. Researchers believe a combination of psychological and physiological factors plays a role.

Some experts suggest that the sensation triggers the release of endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and relaxation.

Others think it may be a form of synesthesia, where different senses are connected and can trigger a response in another sense. A review found that just under 6% of those who enjoy the experience have synesthesia.[2]

What Triggers ASMR Sensations?

ASMR is not experienced by everyone. For those who experience it, the triggers relate to the senses of sound and gentle touch. Visual cues, movement, eating, and other sensations can also trigger it.

Some common triggers include[3]:

  • Page turning or paper folding at a slow pace
  • Sounds of scratching, crispiness, or squishing
  • Crunching or squishing sounds
  • Speaking softly or whispering
  • Humming
  • Moving slowly
  • Breathing deeply
  • Tapping or typing
  • Personal attention
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Massage
  • Brushing or cutting hair
  • Eating
  • Following visual patterns

ASMR videos with audio are the most popular way for enthusiasts to enjoy the experience.

Health Applications of ASMR

While primarily known for its entertainment value, many people vouch for its potential health benefits. Let us take a look at some of the ways ASMR may benefit our health.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation

One of the most conveyed advantages of ASMR is stress reduction, which gives rise to relaxation. The tingling sensation and calming sounds can help to soothe the mind and promote a sense of calmness.

The sensation can be especially beneficial for those who struggle with anxiety or stress-related disorders. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that participants who experienced the sensation reported a significant decrease in their heart rate and increased feelings of relaxation.

Improved Sleep Quality

Many people turn to ASMR videos to help them fall asleep and achieve a more restful sleep. The experience's calming effects can help quiet the mind and foster a feeling of calm, making it easier to fall asleep.

Surveys suggest that up to 82% of ASMR users engage in the experience to help them fall asleep.[4] There is little evidence that it improves sleep, with studies revealing contradictory results.

Pain Management

There is no evidence to suggest that ASMR can lower pain. Some respondents with chronic pain report reductions after engaging in the experience. Studies have failed to find any connection between pain relief and ASMR.

The sensation may promote the release of positive neurotransmitters, such as endorphins. Other research suggests it alters brainwave patterns and the heart rate to induce a state of calm, which can better equip those in pain to cope. It may also provide a potent distraction from pain that may assist as well.

Mindfulness and Self-Awareness

ASMR can also act as a tool for cultivating mindfulness and present-moment awareness. It gets people to focus intensively on sounds and the sensations they trigger. Individuals can use the experience to become more aware of their mind and body, cultivating a more profound sense of self-awareness.

This approach can be particularly advantageous for those who battle with anxiety or have difficulty abiding in the present moment.

Drawbacks of ASMR

While praised for its potential health benefits, there are also some drawbacks.

Limited Scientific Evidence

There is a lack of understanding of the exact mechanism behind ASMR and how it may affect the brain and body.

While some studies allude to the potential health benefits of ASMR, the evidence is inconclusive, and the research is still limited. Many studies are small, and the results remain unconfirmed, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

Since these "aesthetic chills" are still a relatively new phenomenon, there is even less research on the long-term impacts of regularly immersing in the sensation. It is unclear if there are any potential adverse effects or if there are any long-term benefits.

More research is needed to fully understand the potential health applications of ASMR and its effectiveness.

Individual Preferences and Sensitivities

Not everyone experiences ASMR, and even those who do may not respond to the same triggers. The sensation is highly subjective and individualized, and what may trigger a response in one person may not have the same effect on another.

Additionally, some individuals may have sensitivities to specific sounds or visuals used in ASMR videos, which can cause discomfort or even trigger negative emotions.

Should Healthcare Professionals Recommend ASMR?

Despite potential health benefits, no research suggests that ASMR can substitute medical treatment. It is inappropriate to recommend it as a therapy for specific health conditions.

However, healthcare professionals can educate themselves on ASMR and its potential benefits and drawbacks to better understand their patients’ experiences and provide personalized advice.

Conclusion

ASMR is a sensation that has attained overwhelming popularity in recent years, with millions of people seeking out videos and audio recordings to trigger this pleasurable sensation. While it is primarily known for its entertainment value, the experience may offer potential health benefits, such as stress reduction, improved sleep quality, and pain management.

However, the research on the subject is still limited, and there are also some drawbacks to consider, such as individual preferences and sensitivities and the unknown long-term impacts.

While healthcare professionals should approach ASMR cautiously, they can educate themselves on its potential benefits and drawbacks to better understand their patients’ experiences and provide personalized advice.

To search for the best doctors and healthcare providers worldwide, please use the Mya Care search engine.

Sources:

  • [1] https://sleepdoctor.com/noise/asmr-and-sleep/
  • [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380153/
  • [3] https://www.nebraskamed.com/neurological-care/asmr-videos-are-exploding-online-but-what-is-asmr-and-does-it-work
  • [4] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/noise-and-sleep/asmr

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