What are ASMR videos and why are they so satisfying?

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It describes a feeling of euphoric relaxation, and for many a tingling that arises from soft sounds and sensations, like whispering and crinkling leaves, and it's taking over the internet.

"ASMR is something that is blissful but also bizarre," said Craig Richard, a professor of physiology at Shenendoah University and the author of "Brain Tingles." He said those tingles have nothing to do with sex.

"The brain tingles are these light, staticky, almost sparkly feeling that some people will describe in their brain, on their scalp, or just in their head," Richard said. "And those little movements and tingles may move down spine and rest of the body.

Not everyone who listens to and watches ASMR videos gets tingles.

"When I describe ASMR to someone who doesn't know it, I tend to say it's a relaxation method," said Sharon, who is known by her legions of fans as ASMR Glow.

Two and a half years ago, she began posting ASMR videos on YouTube and has since amassed almost a million followers. She is one of countless self-described ASMR artists capitalizing on the trend, which is starting to go mainstream as evidenced in Michelob Ultra's 2019 Super Bowl ad.

"That was like, it made ASMR explode," ASMR Glow said of the advertisement.

She attributed that explosion to people's need to unwind in tense times. While limited research has been done on the method, Richard said most people report feeling more relaxed and able to fall asleep more quickly from the ASMR.

"If it helps you to relax or fall asleep more quickly," he said, "it makes sense that it should be helpful for more severe conditions like anxiety and insomnia."

ASMR extends beyond the internet. Whisperlodge in Westchester offers a real-life, immersive ASMR experience.

"The objective is to really heighten your awareness of things around you and help you tune into yourself," Melinda Lauw, Whisperlodge co-creator, said.