You can’t sleep. It feels like it’s been hours… years even. Let’s face it, you feel like crap, and nothing seems to help. You don’t think too much of it the first night; it’s not unusual to not get enough sleep every once in a while. But when one night turns into two nights, and two nights turns into three, a feeling of panic fills your gut and the terrifying question you have long been suppressing suddenly becomes impossible to ignore: what if I never get a good night’s sleep again? But take it from me, one who has had his day in the sun (or dark) with insomnia, there are many things out there that can help you get the rest you need and deserve.
You’ve probably heard plenty about how you should exercise, eat well, and do a bunch of other stuff during the day in order to make it less likely you’ll experience insomnia at night. And while it’s true that those things are very important to regularly practice, sometimes you need access to other, less obvious coping mechanisms. When you are lying there staring at a darkened ceiling, freaking out about everything that is stressing you out in your life, sometimes all you need is a way to relax.
It is at times like these that you can find comfort in an alternative method of relaxation known as ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. ASMR “artists” are popping up like buttercups all over the internet. But what is it? Described as the “tingling” or “chills” caused most commonly by someone speaking in a soft, soothing voice or whisper, gentle hand movements, tapping noises, or sounds of nature. It should be noted that not everyone who experiences ASMR actually experiences ASMR, and, like everything, it is not for everyone. But even those who do not experience ASMR in the classic way can still find they are very relaxed by it.
ASMR can be made to affect nearly any of the senses, and often multiple senses at once. Visually, ASMR can be achieved via soothing hand motions. Tactile experiences, such as running your nails lightly over your forearms, or massage, is another common cause of it. For some, ASMR can even be effected from pleasant smells, or emotionally moving cognitive experiences caused by music and other forms of art. But perhaps the most common way ASMR is achieved is through sound. Even if you do not relate to the tingling experience I have described, you can probably remember a time when a caregiver of some kind read a book to you to help you fall asleep. It probably helped you relax to focus on the sound of their voice, especially if they were speaking in a low voice, a sing-song tone, or a whisper. You may have understood, even if only implicitly, that the tone of their voice and the manner in which they spoke was what made it much easier to drift away.
It is becoming a popular method of treating insomnia and one that I find particularly consistent in helping me slow down my mind when it is racing at night. I would liken the experience to a massage of the mind, and who doesn’t need that? Our brains are the hardest working part of our entire beings, after all. So, the next time you’re tossing and turning and worrying about all the things you have to do the next day, give ASMR a shot. What do you got to lose? Middle of the night dancing cat videos…