Is listening to ASMR sounds the secret to being more productive?

Maybe it's time we give ASMR sounds a try in order to become our most productive selves

ASMR sounds
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have no idea what ASMR sounds are, but keep hearing about it online, you’re not alone. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) (opens in new tab) explains Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response as: "the experience of tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements." 

It is often compared to "aesthetic chills" that summon euphoric feelings from music or awe-inspiring visuals. ASMR searches on Youtube rake in millions of views, and even big-name brands are using ASMR in their commercials. Many of today’s best meditation apps (opens in new tab) also make use of ASMR recordings. What is it about ASMR sounds that are so popular, and how can you use them in your everyday life?

What are Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) Sounds known to do?

It’s worth looking at what ASMR is first. Some refer to ASMR as whisper therapy (opens in new tab). Videos with repetitive whispering or sounds of something tapping against something else claim to help insomnia and get viewers to fall asleep. The evidence is largely anecdotal, however. While there is little scientific evidence for the “brain tingles” many get while experiencing ASMR, most viewers share that it’s relaxing and helps them sleep. Penn State professor of psychology Rich Carlson said ASMR videos likely help viewers reach a meditative state by having something to focus on, which in turn can help them sleep. 

Some people are even using ASMR to fight depression (opens in new tab). Rhys Baker suffered bouts of serious depression most of his life. He found out about ASMR when a friend who was researching the topic asked him to fill out a survey. After years of trying other methods including regular exercise, medication, and mindfulness, he now just sits down to watch an ASMR video. 

“Afterward, I am left feeling calm and to find all my anxiety and sadness have floated away. The tingles feel like taking a drug that is both a stimulant and a depressant but with no after effect at all. It leaves me with an enormous sense of well-being that I carry through with me for hours after.” 

While most information on ASMR is anecdotal, researchers are continuing to look into this recent phenomenon and how it might help others (opens in new tab), including how it might affect productivity. 

asmr rounds

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How are ASMR sounds being linked to productivity? 

Due to ASMR’s calming reputation, it is most often linked to treating things such as insomnia. However, some people are suggesting that ASMR is the secret to productivity. In a blog post for Trello, one writer revealed that after a month of playing ASMR sounds for four hours every day, her productivity went up 22% (opens in new tab)

Using background noise to help productivity isn’t new: the concept of white noise, and its ability to help people focus, has been around for a while. There might be some crossover between the two. A study in 2012 confirmed that moderate and low levels of ambient noise increased performance and aided creative cognition (opens in new tab). ASMR sounds, much like white noise, may really be the secret weapon that people are looking for to become more productive. 

What different ways can you experience ASMR?

There are two main ways ASMR can be experienced. Meditation and verbal visualizations are one way, but the main way to take in ASMR happens through videos and recordings. Videos of individuals softly speaking while tapping on different items is one of the more popular versions of ASMR. Brushing hair is another favorite, creating a simulated physical touch sensation. Other ASMR videos specialize in things such as page-turning or crinkling. There is even a video of the famous rapper Cardi B (opens in new tab) sharing her spin on this new movement.  Gentle Whispering ASMR (opens in new tab) is one of the more popular ASMR channels on Youtube, featuring videos of soft sounds, hair brushing, and whispering. 

What other ASMR sources can you use?

YouTube is an excellent place to begin when looking to learn more about ASMR, but there are also other resources. ASMR Book of Head Tingles (opens in new tab) is a structured journal to help you track and note what gives you those good tingles. For people who may be looking for additional reading material to better help them on their ASMR journey, (opens in new tab)ASMR: The Sleep Revolution (opens in new tab) might be the perfect read. If you prefer to listen rather than watch, meditation and mindfulness apps are also a great way to get started, so be sure to check out the best meditation apps online. 

One reason ASMR may be taking off is because of its online and social media presence, but ultimately, the data and the first-hand experiences speak for themselves. ASMR content will likely continue to become popular as people look for stress relief and sleep aid. It might even help you be more productive at work. Every person is different, and you’ll likely need to experiment with different types before you find what works for you. 

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