YouTube has helped transform autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos into a hugely popular content vertical and an internationally ubiquitous sleeping aid. These videos feature creators talking about various subjects or completing mundane, repetitive tasks in soft-spoken voices, which are intended to trigger ASMR — a relaxed, euphoric sensation that often yields a tingle down one’s scalp, neck, and back.
The most popular ASMR creator on YouTube right now is GentleWhispering (which you can get a taste of in the embed above), who boasts 800,000 subscribers and 258 million lifetime views — though there are many ASMR channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers apiece. But according to a new study, the popularity of ASMR videos are resulting in many viewers becoming desensitized to the sensations that they are intended to trigger, the Daily Mail reports. In a survey being led by researcher Craig Richard of ASMR University, a news and resource center, 40% of respondents have initially reported a so-called ‘ASMR immunity’. Thus far, researchers have received responses from roughly 19,000 ASMR viewers from 100 countries across the globe.
However, all is not lost forever, according to the Daily Mail. Researchers have found that taking a one- or two-week break from ASMR videos can help restore the sensations. In this way, building up a tolerance to ASMR videos is similar to the way in which people can build up a tolerance to drugs, researchers say.
Other findings from the survey include where, exactly, respondents are reporting that the ASMR sensations are occurring on their bodies. While 95% of respondents felt a tingle in the head and brain area, 71% said it was happening on or around their spinal cords. And though those uninitiated to the phenomenon mistakenly believe that ASMR can be somehow sexual in nature, only 10% of respondents said they find the videos arousing.