ASMR helping people cope with stress, insomnia

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Having trouble sleeping? Coping with stress from work, in your personal life, or even from a constant barrage of news? Millions of people are turning toward a phenomenon on YouTube known as ASMR to help sleep or relax.

Fans say ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a sensory experience unlike any other. Millions of people suffering from things like insomnia or anxiety are turning to ASMR videos on YouTube to help them. They usually feature someone whispering, along with other auditory stimulations.

"ASMR is a blissful and bizarre sensation," said Dr. Craig Richard, a professor at Shenandoah University in Virginia and founder of "It's blissful because a lot of people who experience it say it's deeply relaxing, and they also get these pleasurable brain tingles."

Dr. Richard said the effective evidence of the videos is growing.

"There really is value, and that's what's making ASMR videos stand out right now: consistent reporting of people who watch these videos saying they're super helpful in helping them relax and fall asleep," said Dr. Richard.

"It's also referred to as a 'brain-gasm', or we see a population on the net now called the 'tingleheads'," said Valley Sleep Center founder Lauri Leadley. Leadley also sees the value in ASMR. She uses some of the same methods, along with breathing exercises and meditation. to help patients suffering from insomnia.

"When you don't have optimal sleep, your brain suffers. When your brain suffers, you get different things like anxiety, depression, mood disorders, you're unpleasant to be around, and everyone's looking for a way to help that. This is one of the ways that can help it," said Leadley.

Feather touching and a gentle humming were used with patient Haley Parsons, who says she could feel the effects.

"It's very relaxing," said Parsons. "I almost fell asleep for sure. I really liked the bee hum. I can feel the tingle in my head and a warming sensation as well."

The book tapping and paper crinkling, however, doesn't work on everybody.

"Not everyone responds to these videos with deep relaxation," said Dr. Richard. "ASMR is almost like food. There are some foods I like and you don't like, and it's the same with ASMR, there are videos that might deeply relax me but not deeply relax you."

While scientific research might not be there yet, some experts are still left saying, "whatever helps you sleep at night".

ASMR has also made its way into advertising, with a high-profile beer commercial during the Super Bowl using ASMR techniques.