Can popular TikTok genre ASMR really help people sleep?
ASMR is a relaxing sensation that runs through the scalp and down to the spine. This reaction is triggered by a variety of sounds and activities, and 'ASMRtists' on YouTube and TikTok deliver them in hushed tones, taps or clicks, and mild human care - a mimic face massage, hair brushing, or cosmetics.
People say that listening to soothing sounds and whispering helps them relax and fall asleep.
But, can autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which is becoming increasingly popular on YouTube and TikTok, actually help people sleep?
Experts express reservations, mostly due to a lack of proven evidence, but remark that it might be used to quiet the mind or bring about tranquility.
"There does appear to be potential for ASMR to help patients manage stress and mood," Tyler Grove, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, stated in an email.
It might be one successful coping mechanism, but it may not be for everyone, said Grove, who has felt the tingles since elementary school, beginning with a classroom guest or lecture. He can't recall the details, but he felt a wave of peace rush over him.
"The biggest drawback of ASMR for sleep and anxiety is the absence of scientific proof," noted Dr Tatiana Rodriguez-Klein of Spectrum Health West Michigan in an email.
A study of the academic literature on ASMR also revealed that not all people who watch ASMR videos feel the tingling sensation, thus restricting its advantages, according to Rodriguez-Klein.
ASMR is a relaxing sensation that runs through the scalp and down to the spine. This reaction is triggered by a variety of sounds and activities, and "ASMRtists" on YouTube and TikTok convey them in hushed tones, taps or clicks, and mild human care - a mimic facial massage, hair brushing, or cosmetics.
It is unknown why just certain people have this reaction. Furthermore, Grove noted, it is unclear why people feel it in the first place.
Since around 2010, the phenomena has just been named.
"It's comparable to migraine headaches in that we know they exist as a condition largely because many different patients describe the same constellation of symptoms and natural history," Yale University School of Medicine neurologist Dr Steven Novella stated in 2012, confirming the existence of ASMR.
"This is simply another evidence of how amazingly complicated and strange our brains are." "How else can you explain the presence of YouTube videos of whispered Latin and wrapping paper noise?"
Despite being acknowledged by the scientific community, research is limited. It was once considered esoteric, but Grove believes that with its growing popularity, research will continue and expand.
Olivia White, 25, of Jackson, performs ASMR as LivvyloveASMR on TikTok every night. It is her full-time profession, with over 577,000 followers.
ASMR helped her cope with the death of her ex-boyfriend, Greer Brody, as well as her attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder, which was identified only after the rigors of college revealed difficulties concentrating. She is also more rested.
"It has completely altered my capacity to operate as a person," she explained.
She can't fathom not having it. "The ability to sleep is simply necessary for living, accomplishing anything during the day, or operating."
She watches it when she is not sleeping - "if I am feeling nervous." It calms her nervous system and lowers her heart rate.
Others have had similar experiences, and others are drawn to White, who is engaged, compassionate, and real. Leaning into what she recognizes as weird or perplexing, she will massage a coconut, act as if she is brushing viewers' faces, and conduct some role play in the costumes of famous characters or personalities, such She-Hulk, Velma from Scooby Doo, and inadvertent ASMR celebrity, painter Bob Ross.
Grove suggested that ASMR be utilized in the wind-down period one hour before bed to encourage relaxation, which can aid with sleep.
The catch? Grove claims that watching TV on a phone or tablet exposes people to light, which may lead to sleep disturbance. "Because of all the activities we undertake with our phones and tablets, they may also be psychologically stimulating."
White admits that she may occasionally simply put on her headphones and listen. She explains that some ASMRtists upload their recordings on Spotify.
Dr. Virginia Skiba of Henry Ford Health in Detroit believes ASMR is one form of relaxing. Breathing exercises and other meditation activities are also beneficial. "And various things appeal to different people."
When she sees insomnia sufferers, she often talks to them about what they can do to relax their brains. "I kind of encourage them to figure out what works best for them."
Rodriguez-Klein said that ASMR is a subjective experience that cannot be generalized without "adequate empirical backing."
According to her, frequent self-reported advantages include less stress and increased sleep quality. People have reported watching a film before bed and taking less time to fall asleep.
Experts favor evidence-based therapies for insomnia, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Stimulus control and sleep restriction treatment, which are intended to reduce lengthy awake periods in the middle of the night, are essential components, according to her.
Insomnia is diagnosed when sleep issues last more than three months, occur three or more days per week, and interfere with daytime functioning, according to Rodriguez-Klein. Insomnia frequently includes a mental and physical process. "In that circumstance, using ASMR or a single stress-reduction technique... will most likely be ineffective."
"Having a practice of positive coping techniques can help with self-management of these disorders," Rodriguez Klein said of stress and anxiety.
A clinical degree of anxiety may necessitate extra therapy or action, such as behavioral modification or medication management, she noted.
This does not imply that ASMR is useless, she claims.
She would not advise against it if a patient experiences benefit, but she would not advocate it because clinical trials to determine efficacy are lacking.
"I feel like, in certain cases, physicians might be more resistive to things that they don't get paid to deliver you," said Krystyna Sills, a Virginia lawyer who claims ASMR improves the quality of her sleep, which she gets three to four hours a night.
She stated she was getting around an hour of sleep before she started viewing ASMR on a daily basis. "So it's gotten better."
Her therapist and doctor are both on her side, she says.
There is no research on ASMR as a relaxant, but there is such individual variety, according to Dawn Dore-Stites, clinical associate professor and associate director of education in paediatric psychology at Michigan Medicine. She had a patient who would unwind by listening to heavy rap.
"It works for them if it works for the patient," Dore-Stites added. "As long as it doesn't harm anyone." - Tribune News Service/mlive.com