You’ve probably heard (or seen) of the acronym ‘ASMR’ on the internet or from a friend or family member who referred to a tingly or pleasant sound with the term.

Then again, most of us learned what it does even before we actually knew what the acronym meant, so we tend to prioritize using it for sleep instead of researching what it really is.

So, what exactly is it, and why does it send that pleasant sensation throughout our body and mind?

Table of Contents

What is ASMR?

First, the question we’ve all had on the edge of our minds but never searched for is what the acronym means.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) may be weird for some, but these are sounds, visuals, or even tactile stimulants that cause the listener to feel some tingly sensation that travels from the head down to the spine and even some other parts of the body if the receiver is very sensitive.

Of course, sensations might differ from person to person, and what might not sound pleasant to most may sound pleasurable to some. This is why ASMR videos or audio are most likely accompanied by the word ‘trigger(s),’ which points out how the artist will try to stimulate the listener/viewer using various methods and items.

ASMR is even an accepted therapy with health benefits such as enhancing mindfulness, reducing anxiety, and slowing heart rate, among others. The way stimulants are used to calm people down has been an idea for the past years, but it was not given much attention and research until our contemporary times.


What does it particularly do to the brain?

For those who are getting tingles from ASMR, researchers observed that it has something to do with how our brain responds to what triggers us.

Think of how you flinched when something rough scraped a blackboard or plates, or the noises made when classroom chairs slid against the floor once everyone excitedly stood up. These examples are unpleasant triggers, but ASMR does precisely the opposite with items and techniques that ensure a comfortable experience.

A small study in 2018 showed 10 participants who had their brains scanned in an fMRI machine, allowing the researchers to observe what happens to the brain during an ASMR experience. When the participants heard the trigger sounds, their brains showed activities in parts that are responsible for emotions, such as empathy and social interactions.

Further, the sounds brought on by ASMR triggers also reduce insomnia by releasing certain neurohormones, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins associated with feeling sleepy or relaxed.

Different kinds of ASMR triggers

Now that we have enough understanding of what ASMR is, we can identify the different kinds of sound triggers and how ASMR-tists give us that calm and comfort we seek from their videos. Here are some of the most common sounds and methods.

Sound Triggers

Whispering or Blowing

The artist places his/her mouth close to the mic and whispers or blows gently. The whispering can either be talking to the listener, or it can also be random babbling; there is always a sense of comfort when we are being spoken to gently or softly, which is why there are people who whisper the texts when reading books. It gives the sensation that everything will be alright, and perhaps the artist can whisper words of affirmation to allow the listener to relax or feel more sure about him-/herself.

Similarly, blowing gently on the mic imitates the comforting breeze we feel and hear on windy days, which can also be very relaxing for most people.


Have you ever found comfort or pleasure when gift-wrapping items or ensuring your plastics from the market are neatly kept? Some people enjoy how crinkling paper or plastic sounds, especially when the atmosphere is silent. Artists will bring such items close to the mic and crinkle them slowly to produce sound focused on this trigger.


Scratching on rough surfaces or items is a fan favorite where the artists either use their fingernails or other things like a paint or make-up brush to gently (or even aggressively) scratch and brush them against the microphone, which can also be covered with foam to make it even more triggering pleasantly. This is also one of the easiest ASMR sounds to produce if you are venturing into becoming an ASMR artist because the microphone is almost always accessible, and scratching sounds can easily be produced from its rough surface.

Tapping and Keyboard Typing

Another trigger is tapping on a hard surface or items such as hardbound books, wood, plastic cases, phone cases, and other related things. The tapping or drumming of fingers against a hard surface gives both the artist and the listener a sense of comfort, akin to tapping our pens or pencils when we are bored or in deep thought.

Likewise, keyboard typing using a variety of keyboards is pleasing to the ears and even visually attractive as, most of the time, keyboard typing ASMR is accompanied by a

video of the person typing and showcasing the keyboard used. Such a combination encourages the viewer to study or do online productivity.


Visual Triggers

Arts and Crafts

Do you know how we spend hours watching Facebook reels or TikTok videos of people who do scrapbooking, paint, or create dioramas? We don’t notice that time passes watching these short videos because we are hooked, not just by how it will turn out in the end, but because of the entire process of how creativity works once performed by the artist. It also helps when artists use the raw sounds produced by, say, the scratching of a pencil against paper or a brush against the canvas.

Cooking and Mukbang (Eating)

Ah, yes, cooking shows are not new because these are our go-to videos when we want to learn and follow along with preparing meals. However, people have become creative with showing viewers how meals are done through video editing and enhancing sounds, such as chopping or frying, to make mouthwatering content and truly effective in keeping viewers engaged.

If you were not aware of ASMR yet, perhaps you have heard of the term ‘Mukbang’ instead, which refers to watching other people enjoy a variety of food ranging from fried and crispy to pasta and even soups. Mukbang is yet another example of both the visually and aurally pleasant. No wonder it always triggers most people’s appetites when watching these videos!


True to what it is, roleplay ASMRs combine a soothing atmosphere, trigger sounds, and an interactive experience where the artist usually takes a singular role, depending on the situation. For example, the artist can play as a dentist and use the dental playing kit to produce triggering sounds, or a chef who prepares the viewers’ meals through a kitchen playset.

Walking Tours

Walking tour videos reached their peak popularity, especially when there were strict restrictions during the height of the pandemic. Although we can never say the pandemic has fully disappeared, we can now travel the world again. However, a few years back, people relied on these walking tour videos to virtually explore the world.

Type in a place or country you want to ‘explore,’ and several videos should be available on YouTube. Thanks to the patience and willingness of people worldwide to walk for hours around their vicinity, we can now enjoy and relax wherever we are watching.

ASMR is for everyone

It doesn’t matter if you are just a listener or viewer wanting temporary relief from stress and anxiety or if you have been thinking about creating an account and becoming an

ASMR-tist yourself; ASMR is for all people and all ages. It’s never too late to discover what this is all about and engage with the community because everyone has their own way of coping, and ASMR is a way for people to find similar and relatable methods of relieving themselves.

What are your favorite ASMR triggers? Would you introduce ASMR to the older generations, such as your parents? Why? Why not? Let us know your thoughts.

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