A dorm is a hard place to sleep in. There are people down the hallway having a loud party. There’s the uncomfortable mattress that barely fits your body. There’s probably someone also trying to sleep about five feet away from you, too. And they probably snore.
There have been a few nights in college when I can’t get to sleep no matter what I do. There’s one thing, however, that relaxes my mind and gets me ready for a long winter’s nap: ASMR videos.
ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is not a scientific term. It works for some people, and it doesn’t work for others. Which is okay – a lot of these videos are really, really weird. But once you look past the weirdness, there are so many wonderful and even artistic elements of the ASMR world.
You’ve probably seen an ASMR video in the wild before. They usually feature a person with a microphone whispering into your ear and making a noise with some prop.
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You’ve probably even experienced the effect of ASMR, otherwise known as “tingles” to many fans. It’s often described as a warm feeling that spreads from the top of the spine and base of the skull to other parts of the body. It’s that pleasant sensation you get when someone draws on your hand or plays with your hair.
The experience can be really relaxing. Take it from me, someone who has nearly fallen asleep to ASMR videos in the past. If you’re someone who suffers from the ever-present anxiety that comes with college life – meaning pretty much every student – ASMR can be a lovely way to decompress.
The key to truly enjoying ASMR is finding creators you enjoy. Just looking into the wild can have you running across content that doesn’t necessarily soothe you. I usually only watch videos from a handful of creators, though I sometimes branch out to others.
My all-time favorite ASMR creator is Mia ASMR. Her videos range from fairly normal – like her recent video where she says her followers’ names – to genuinely bizarre, like her video where the girl sitting behind you in class basically preens you and eats the bugs out of your hair.
Fair warning: Mia ASMR specializes in mouth sounds, which are, understandably, the sounds your mouth makes, like chewing and lip smacking. While these usually drive me insane in everyday life, somehow she makes them super relaxing. I cannot explain the psychology behind that.
What I admire most about her videos are the characters she plays. In a video where she paints your portrait while incredibly tired, she creates a whole personality. This could have just been a simple video with some nice brush noises, but instead she plays a character that is way too confident in their painting ability, to the point that they compare themselves to Picasso.
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My favorite part of ASMR is the creativity of so many of these content creators. It’s pretty simple to make a simple ASMR video – just plop yourself in front of a microphone and camera and make noises. But so many creators bring a new level of creativity that makes the whole experience so fun.
Slight Sounds ASMR made a video where she beats you up – softly, of course. Jocie B ASMR acts as your sleep paralysis demon, who just wants you to fall asleep. And, of course, there’s Angelica, who creates ASMR videos so bizarre they border on parody. A cursory glance through her channel showcases this – from Henry VIII’s wives confiding in you to the cast of South Park turning you into a walrus (shoutout Kevin Smith).
ASMR isn’t a monolith. There is so much creativity and love that goes into these videos. Every creator has a different voice and style. Especially now, our world needs a relaxing, imaginative way to express ourselves. Though, if you find the right creator, you might not be able to appreciate their creativity. You might fall asleep too quickly.
Danny William (they/them) is a freshman studying media.