Could ASMR be the Solution to Your Insomnia?

Updated on September 21, 2020

Do you struggle to fall asleep at night, or to remain asleep once you’ve gone to bed? Have you tried everything you can think of, up to and including taking medications to sleep? Maybe you think you have, but there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of ASMR. This is a relatively new technique that is helping many insomniacs fall asleep, stay asleep, and finally get the rest they need.

What is ASMR?

According to a study out of the University of Winnipeg, “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a perceptual condition in which the presentation of particular audio-visual stimuli triggers intense, pleasurable tingling sensations in the head and neck regions, which may spread to the periphery of the body.” Most people who experience ASMR also describe a sense of euphoria that goes along with the tingling. Afterward, people report feeling relaxed, centered, happy, calm, peaceful and even sleepy.

ASMR is usually brought on by watching or listening to certain sounds and images or even by certain types of light or methodical touching. Different people find that different triggers work best for them, so it can take some experimenting to figure out what will consistently bring on the sensation.

The particular sounds or images that bring on ASMR can vary significantly. Many popular videos show people doing everyday tasks, like folding laundry, brushing hair, or moving their hands. Sounds include things like flipping magazine pages, tapping various objects, crinkling paper, brushing hair, and more. Some people can bring on the sensation through meditating, thinking about some of their more powerful triggers, or using various relaxation techniques.

A few people find that they need to be touched to achieve ASMR. These people are usually triggered by massage, light caresses, or even being stroked with a feather. Some people find that they want to be petted, almost as if you were petting an animal.

ASMR doesn’t seem to happen to everyone. It may be that those who haven’t experienced it simply haven’t found their triggers, or it may be the case that certain people can’t have the experience.

How Does ASMR Help Insomnia?

The sensation can be difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it. However, because it both causes bliss and then leaves people sleepy, it offers a way to overcome the stress of the day, avoid anxious mental churning at bedtime, and sleep deeply. It helps the brain push out thoughts that might disturb sleep onset, so a person can go straight to sleep without their usual habits of mind interrupting that process.

ASMR is most helpful for those who can trigger the condition through thought or mediation, or for those whose triggers are audio or visual. While those who need physical touch to initiate the condition can still reap its benefits, that often requires a partner who is willing to induce the condition every night.

Why Does ASMR Work?

Researchers are studying ASMR. While the phenomenon has likely been around as long as people have, it has only become popular relatively recently. Thus, there are not a lot of completed studies on the topic. While researchers aren’t sure why ASMR occurs, there are several theories.

ASMR may be designed, originally, to help people bond with one another. Researchers noticed that many of the common ASMR triggers involve gentle touch, low voices, and other experiences that are common among people who are close to one another. They also noticed that many of the feelings that result from ASMR, like feeling secure, happy, or even euphoric, are also brought on in close relationships.

They theorized, then, that ASMR sensations originally functioned to enhance the bonding process between people. Stroking someone gently would cause euphoria and relaxation, which would cause people to want to be together again.

Another theory states that a person’s particular ASMR triggers take them back to their childhood. They associate the triggers with happy, relaxing, restful memories, and so they feel euphoria like they haven’t felt since they were young.

It doesn’t really matter why ASMR works. If you can achieve the sensations and the feelings afterward help you sleep, there’s no good reason not to use ASMR when you’re struggling with insomnia. Not sure if you are someone who can have the sensation? Watch or listen to some of the videos below and see what happens.

ASMR Resources

ASMR fans have created millions of YouTube videos designed to bring on the sensations. Here are a few of the most popular and the most interesting videos. Try a few to figure out if ASMR works for you and what brings on the sensation. Then, keep these podcasts videos handy for bedtime, or anytime you’re suffering from insomnia.

YouTube Videos

ASMR Guided Meditation

Binaural, Visual, Audio and Video ASMR Triggers

Zen Garden Visual ASMR Video

Common ASMR Triggers


The ASMR Podcast


Sleep and Relax ASMR

ASMR Sleep Station

Sleep Whispers