What Is ASMR? The “Brain-gasm” That Took Over YouTube

electrified brain what is ASMR
Reading Time: 4 minutes


To describe ASMR, some wax poetic, like Virginia Woolf in her classic novel, “Mrs. Dalloway”:

[A nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient] “deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper’s, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound.”1

Others describe it as a straight-up “brain-gasm;” a euphoric sensation that sizzles through the nervous system like carbonated bubbles in a flute of sparkling champagne.

When that tingling sensation washes over you, often unannounced and fleeting, you might mutter Britney Spears’ immortal words: “GIMME GIMME MORE.”

Yet, despite the term’s rising popularity, some of you still wonder:

What is ASMR?

flat lay asmr scrabble and headphones


Coined circa 2010 by Jennifer Allen,2 ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

Some have likened ASMR to sex (or the next best thing.)

Others have called it a “low-grade euphoria.”3

And much like euphoria, you won’t fully understand ASMR unless you experience it.

So, why not make it your brief mission in life to enjoy some chandelier-swingingly good ASMR, or at least find out if you’re biologically predisposed to this phenomenon?4

To this end, below are some auto-sensory triggers to induce those enigmatic brain tingles.

Perhaps they can answer the question, once and for all, “What is ASMR?”

what is asmr? list of triggers


Alright, folks.

Time to get tingly!

(Alexa, dim the lights.)

Now, get out your orgasmatron (yup, you heard that right), or your favorite massage device, or just use your fingernails!


Now, stroke the back of your head gently, slowly, from the nape to the crown and then from side to side.

Feel anything?

If the answer’s, “No,” then you might want to tag team with Bob Ross, the legendary landscape artist and host of the 1980s-90s show, “The Joy of Painting” (available on YouTube.) 

What you’re not looking to reproduce is that tickly sensation that rises from the pit of your stomach when you plunge from a tall rollercoaster ride, for instance, or jump off of a cliff into deep waters below.

What you want is that jolt that zaps through your skull in sequential waves, causing you to flinch or shiver (in a good way.)

Feel it yet?

(Not so much?)

Alright, then.

Let’s try something else.


There are roughly 5 million ASMR videos on YouTube.

The top-performing ones boast over 16 million view counts.

(Cue the sound of erotic brain-gasms erupting around the world!)

Nowadays, dedicated ASMR content creators take a binaural approach to recording their videos. In other words, they whisper, scratch, tap and blow air into two microphones.

If you’re listening with headphones, one of the mics will transmit the sounds to your left ear, while the other mic transmits them to your right ear.

And I must say this approach is one of the most effective ways to trigger ASMR.

Give it a whirl:

Otherwise, if chewing sounds don’t gross you the f*ck out, try this:

Finally, if you still can’t answer the question, “What is ASMR?” how about a bit of roleplay with the Queen herself, Maria Viktorovna aka @GentleWhispering?

The list of ASMR videos goes on and on. But you catch my drift.


According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), “since ASMR causes feelings of calmness and sleepiness, it has actually been known to help people sleep, even in people with occasional insomnia.

“One [2015 study] with a total of 475 participants showed that 98 percent of this group sought out ASMR to help them relax. Also, 82 percent use it to help them sleep, and 70 percent use it to deal with stress.”

Recently, a QWERTYdelight subscriber reported some major ASMR while listening to our sleep story, “Paradise Island” (below), which inspired this post and led us further down the ASMR rabbit hole (to our delight.)

So, if you’re struggling to hit the sack like a pro, get off of Reddit and get into some bedtime goodness. 

Who knows? Your spine might get “rasped deliciously” like that dude’s in “Mrs. Dalloway.”


À bientôt!

  1. Maslan H. & Roache, R. (2015, Jul 30.) “ASMR & absurdity.” Practical Ethics. Oxford University Press.
  2. Richard, C. (2016, May 16.) Interview with Jennifer Allen, the woman who coined the term “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” (ASMR). ASMR University. https://asmruniversity.com/2016/05/17/jennifer-allen-interview-coined-asmr/
  3. Barratt, E. & Davis, N. (2015.) “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state.” PeerJ 3: e851.
  4. Vatican, J. (2019, Oct 14.) “ASMR Explained: Why Some People Experience It While Others Don’t. The Unexamined Life. Medical Daily. https://www.medicaldaily.com/asmr-explained-why-some-people-experience-while-others-dont-444320
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