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ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response if you prefer the fancier term, is everywhere right now.

Your social media feeds are probably full of people talking about their favorite triggers. YouTube is loaded with vloggers trying to find the sound that will send them into a state of bliss.

If you’re still searching for that infamous tingling sensation, look no further. Here, we break down 28 of the most common triggers and why they work.

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Exactly what they sound like, these noises are often soft and designed to give you the ultimate relaxing experience.


One of the most common ASMR triggers, gentle whispering can result in feelings of calmness and relaxation, as a recent study noted.

Some say the simple sound, which involves someone whispering slowly into a microphone, can also help with sleep issues.


Blowing sounds create a similar effect to whispering. Resembling a gentle wind, this popular ASMR trigger can send you off to a good night’s sleep.


Scratching can be a slightly controversial ASMR trigger. Although popular, it can rub some people the wrong way.

But if you’re into the sound of someone scratching metal, plastic, or even their nails directly across a microphone, you’re likely to experience a tingling, calming sensation. Sometimes, you may even feel excited.


Tapping is similar to the above ASMR triggers. It usually involves the sounds of nails tapping on various surfaces, including glass and wood, and promotes relaxation.

Page turning

Repetitive sounds are included in the top five most popular triggers, according to one 2015 study. Page turning certainly falls into that category.

The soft, crinkling noises that newspapers, magazines, and books make can reportedly soothe symptoms of anxiety and leave you feeling super calm.


Writing sounds can provoke a strong tingling sensation. Some say they can also send a person to sleep.

ASMR video creators often opt for one of two tools: pens that produce a scratchy sound or softer pencils.


Typing ASMR can either send you to sleep or assist with concentration. Often, different keyboards are used to create varying sounds. Acrylic nails can heighten the sensations.


Similar to page turning, listening to the crinkling of paper or plastic sounds can elicit relaxation, helping you de-stress.


For some, the sound of a person humming is an annoyance. For others, it acts like a nighttime lullaby. You’ll have to figure out which side of the fence you fall on.


Buzzing triggers are usually created by electric items, such as razors.

Some of these vibrating sounds can be gentle enough for a soothing experience. Others are a little more aggressive. Of course, this is still seen as relaxing by some people.


When it comes to chewing ASMR videos, you either love them or hate them.

There’s some crossover between this trigger and the Korean concept of mukbang: an interactive eating experience where the eater films themselves consuming large quantities of food, and viewers respond.

But eating ASMR focuses more on the sounds that emanate from someone’s mouth, whether that’s loud and crunchy or soft and slurpy.

Sticky fingers

A soft tone that’s often pleasurable to listen to, sticky fingers ASMR is exactly what it sounds like.

People either place their fingers on sticky objects like tape or use a substance like honey to “stick” their fingers to the microphone.

Water drops

Whether it’s simple droplets or fizzing noises, the natural sound of water can be incredibly relaxing.

In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, it can even improve sleep quality if you leave it on all night.

Ticking clock

The repetition of a ticking clock sounds rather natural to the brain. If you need some help sleeping or studying, this could be the ASMR trigger for you.

Motor humming

Listening to the humming motor of a vehicle can soothe some people and intensely irritate others. It’s all about personal choice.

Cat purring

Cat purring is an oddly soothing sound. With the ability to relax and cause a nice shut-eye session, it’s one of the cutest ASMR triggers around.

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Physical ASMR triggers are usually created with the help of a tool, whether that’s a brush or oil.

Some people like them because they feel like they’re inside the video with the ASMR creator, heightening the sensations.

Ear brushing

Makeup brushes make the perfect ear brushing ASMR technique. Whether it’s a small eyeshadow brush, a larger Kabuki design, or even the bristles of a shaving brush, the sounds can be super calming to listen to.

Hair play

Having your hair played with is relaxing in real life, so it makes sense that watching and listening to it can provoke the same response.

Hair play ASMR involves a number of tools, from fingers running through strands to the bristles of hair brushes.


Watching someone massage another person can result in the typical ASMR tingles — whether it’s a deep head massage or a back massage involving oil.

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Always found a certain environment or activity particularly relaxing? Situational ASMR videos may be the ones for you.

Certain words

Interestingly, some words can trigger a sleepy ASMR response.

Words with the letters S, P, and K tend to be used (and whispered) due to the calming sounds they produce.

But some words can remind you of a past memory, prompting positive feelings.

Personal attention

To relieve stress and ensure a good night’s sleep, personal attention ASMR videos can help.

The creator makes direct eye contact with the camera, placing their hands near the lens as if they were touching your face. They also speak in a relaxing and welcoming tone.


Role-play ASMR involves putting yourself front and center in a typically relaxing scenario. Think hair salon or spa and you’re on the right track.

However, some acts involve more niche environments, like a mock tattoo parlor or surgery. No matter which one you choose, they’re all designed to de-stress.

Eye contact

This ASMR trigger is all about long-lasting direct eye contact, giving viewers a sense of intimacy and companionship.

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For these videos, you don’t have to listen to the sound. The visual is designed to be strong enough to promote an ASMR response.

Hand movements

A lot of ASMR videos incorporate hand movements into another trigger like whispering. But the soft and gentle movement alone can relax and send you to sleep.

Watching someone concentrate

Watching someone paint or study can invoke a tingling and calming ASMR response. This is because they combine several common triggers, including brushing noises and soft speaking.

Color swatching

Soft sounds are what color swatching ASMR is all about. Beauty fans are sure to fall for this one with its makeup focus. The product reviews are just a bonus.

Paint mixing

Watching paint dry may be mind-numbingly boring, but watching it mix? Well, that’s a different story. In fact, it can even trigger a tingling, calming sensation.

And if combined with whispering and gentle noises, you can expect an even more powerful response.

Light patterns

Although certain light sources are known to interfere with sleep, the relaxation that light ASMR promotes appears to block this effect.

So, if you’re looking for a soundless way to de-stress at night, try watching a light-up video.

There’s barely any science to prove how or why ASMR exists.

But plenty of people describe tingles running through the backs of their heads and spines — as well as feelings of relaxation and peace — when listening to or watching their personal triggers.

Back in 2012, one neurologist wondered whether ASMR could be a sign of a mini pleasurable seizure. Alternatively, he hypothesized that certain sounds were simply a way of activating the brain’s pleasure response.

Although no one is sure of the process, a couple of studies have examined the benefits of these self-reported feelings.

One study, published in PeerJ in 2015, determined that ASMR can result in a short-term improvement in symptoms of chronic pain and depression.

A more recent study claimed to be the first to show the emotional changes caused by ASMR.

Participants who experienced ASMR exhibited a significant increase in positive emotions and feelings of social connection. They also demonstrated significantly reduced heart rates.

Currently, though, ASMR remains very much a mystery.

It depends on the person. Although some people may not find any of the above triggers sexual, others find certain sounds and visuals to be erotic.

Most YouTubers in the ASMR field don’t produce their videos with sex in mind, but feeling that way when watching them isn’t abnormal.

In a 2015 study of 475 people, 5 percent of respondents reported watching ASMR videos for sexual stimulation.

A second study, published in the Empirical Musicology Review, found sexual arousal to be a common ASMR feeling.

ASMR doesn’t affect everyone.

Some people develop an ASMR response almost immediately. Others take a while to find the trigger that’s right for them.

Some may never feel it at all.

This could be due to neurodiversity: the fact that individual human brains can have a ton of differences.

With millions of ASMR videos in existence, the phenomenon is a growing part of modern culture. But the tingling and relaxation is never guaranteed.

So, whether you want to search for your individual trigger(s) or give up on the entire concept, you do you.

Lauren Sharkey is a journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.