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How ASMR Helps Me Sleep as Someone With a Chronic Illness

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I have told a few people I trust about ASMR. Some of those people listened, politely at least, while others just pushed past politeness and moved straight for rude…and these were the people I trusted, or at least thought I could trust.

You see, sharing things that relate to a chronic illness can be difficult. It can require moments of openness. A slight hesitation can be presented and the sharing turns to being wounded instead. Not everyone will understand and not everyone will so much as care.


ASMR is one of those topics that I shared as it has helped me time and time again. The stress of a chronic illness can be too much. The anxiety builds and before you know it, you are overburdened and stress just oozes out of you. This is where ASMR saved me. So what is ASMR some of you may wonder?

Autonomous sensory meridian response. Perhaps best explained like this. Think back to when you had your last haircut. Do you recall that tingly sensation that made you slouch in the chair ever so slightly because your body felt or heard something that practically forces you to relax a little? That is ASMR. It’s a trigger in the brain that releases chemicals to allow you to be soothed, even if only for a moment. This process occurs through our senses and the great thing is, we are all unique in how we are affected.

image of a person's brain with 'ASMR' text

The humming sound a refrigerator makes or the noise of a fan helping people sleep at night…ASMR.

The light brushing on the back of your neck, or the feeling of having your hair played with…ASMR.

All these different types of “triggers” allow us to relax and unwind a little. And this is what has saved me at times.

Having a chronic illness, which for me is a genetic cardiomyopathy, can be hard. You can’t see it, and only I can feel it. Sometimes it’s hard to explain, even to the ER doctors. So when a bad day has struck, and I need to get some sleep, I listen to ASMR on YouTube.

I will caution those that want to experience this for themselves that there are plenty of channels and videos you should avoid due to their lack of morals. But when you find a few channels that hit the spot, so to speak, it can be bliss to your ears.

There is a whole community of people out there who do their best to make videos to help give us those sensations. And if you decide that YouTube isn’t your cup of tea, you can get the same types of feelings and sensations from your significant other, or whoever is close to you by asking them to gently rub your back as you close your eyes. Play with your hair. Whatever it is that helps you.

It’s worth a try because it can be the difference between sleeping tonight, or sleeping sometime tomorrow.

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Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic.

Originally published: June 28, 2017
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