The autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) phenomenon continues to surge in popularity, amassing an enthusiastic following from individuals worldwide seeking to relax and de-stress. According to data, the hashtag #ASMR has accumulated an astonishing 785 billion views on TikTok, with 288 million of these views recorded in the last week alone.
A recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that a remarkable 63% of Gen-Z respondents search for ASMR sounds online. Additionally, half of all Americans are searching for ASMR sounds, with this figure rising to 63% for Gen-Z.
The Forbes Health study further delved into ASMR trends by analysing search data across multiple platforms, including Google, YouTube, and Bing. The results indicated that the most popular types of ASMR sounds are rain, crickets, thunder, clapping, and laughing. These sounds garnering combined monthly searches of 3.1 million, 622K, 241K, 205K, and 181K respectively.
More than half of the survey participants (53%) claimed they searched for these sounds to aid their sleep, a percentage that increased to two-thirds (66%) within the Gen-Z cohort. Furthermore, 42% of Americans use ASMR sounds for relaxation, and 31% leverage them for meditative purposes.
Dr Judy Ho, a California-based neuropsychologis, posits that the human brain’s attraction to patterns and routines plays a significant role in ASMR’s appeal. “Our brains are constantly scanning for threats, but rhythmic patterns – such as a soft, steady rainfall – signal relaxation,” she explained. This signal allows the brain to switch off its high-alert mode, promoting a more restful state. Furthermore, repetitive sounds offer a predictable sensory experience, which helps prevent rumination and quieten the mind.
“Research shows that being in nature reduces stress chemicals like cortisol, decreases anxiety and enhances a sense of peace,” asserted Dr Deborah Courtney, a New York-based psychotherapist. She also mentions that the human brain connects sounds with feelings of safety and security that date back to the womb. “As seen with the wakeful infant, white noise can help them self-soothe, settle down, and bring on a sense of calm,” she adds.
Both doctors, who are also members of the Forbes Health Advisory Board, agree on the potential power of sounds. “Sound is powerful,” Dr Courtney concludes. “This power is evident as soon as one turns on the hum of white noise and watches a crying infant settle down as if under a magic spell.”
As the popularity of ASMR continues to rise, the interest in and research on the therapeutic benefits of specific sounds promise to provide further insights into their profound impact on human health and well-being. With an increasing focus on mindfulness and natural relaxation techniques, ASMR appears poised to continue captivating global audiences for the foreseeable future.