What is ASMR? Why millions are listening to people whisper on YouTube

If you’ve ever experienced a tingling sensation on your skin in response to a certain visual or sound, you may have had an autonomous sensory meridian response—or ASMR as it’s more commonly known as.

Hundreds of videos on YouTube claim to trigger this response with people whispering into microphones, tapping objects, playing with slime or even cutting bars of soap-- and these videos have garnered millions of views. There seems to be an entire online community devoted to ASMR.

“ASMR sort of counts on us having responses to different stimuli,” Kristin Pleines, a therapist at Manhattan Play Therapy in New York told Fox News. “So for some people this could be feeling very relaxed at the sound of falling rain. This could be having a reaction to something crunchy or like a different texture. Some people having had that experience then seek it out online.”

Taylor Darling said she started experiencing ASMR “tingles” at an early age and decided to start making her own ASMR videos when she was a freshman in college. About three years later, her YouTube page now has over 2.4 million subscribers.

“I have had so many people reach out to me saying how I have helped them with their depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress, PTSD even. I have even had people tell me they don't need their prescription medication anymore after watching my ASMR videos and others,” Darling told Fox News in an email.

Anecdotal evidence has demonstrated that people can benefit from ASMR videos because they can trigger a feeling of relaxation for those suffering with anxiety or insomnia. But there is no exact science to what ASMR really is and why some people experience it while others don’t. Some experts believe it could be connected to the activation of the pleasure response in our brains, while others contribute it to the possible release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin.

Gwen of the Youtube page GwenGwiz, said she started her ASMR page after making a video to help a friend fall asleep at night.

“I had absolutely no intentions of anybody else seeing the video, so I was super shocked when other people commented saying that they liked it and wanted to see more,” Gwen told FoxNews.com.


Gwen’s YouTube page now has over 400K subscribers with one of her most popular videos titled “ASMR Ear & Mouth Sounds” raking in 3.4 million views.

“There’s such a huge variety of ASMR videos and some of the most popular videos are filmed with an iPhone, so there’s no set formula. I’d say the key elements for me are a good microphone, quiet surroundings, a soothing voice or whisper and trigger sounds like tapping, typing, and hair brushing,” Gwen said.

For people who want to create an ASMR experience at home, you can buy kinetic sand or a slime-based toy, but Pleines said there are plenty of things you may already have at home that you can use.

“People have created these videos using everything from a bar of soap-- carving bars of soap, folding napkins. People sometimes have this experience when they're chewing something crunchy like a Cheeto or bowls of cereal,” Pleines, who uses ASMR techniques in her practice, told Fox News.


“The kind of cool thing about this is because for each person the triggers can be unique. You can kind of look around your home and tap things and listen to things and kind of see how you feel.”