June 30, 2022

More Than A Feeling

6.4 min read| Published On: June 30th, 2022|

By Roxanne Brown

More Than A Feeling

6.4 min read| Published On: June 30th, 2022|

For some people who have trouble falling asleep, ASMR is a dream come true.

Sleep has always been a touchy subject for Summerfield resident and Akers Media photographer Nicole Neola, since for her, it doesn’t come easy.

At her wit’s end experiencing insomnia, Nicole, in 2018, turned to a sleep specialist for help.

Nicole says the doctor, a neurologist, diagnosed her with atypical narcolepsy, which if anything, shed some much-needed light on her condition. 

“How he explained it is that I am like a caveman when I sleep. I don’t allow my body to stay in REM long enough because I’m a light sleeper. I have a hard time falling asleep, I have a hard time staying asleep, so any type of noise wakes me up,” Nicole says.

At the time, the doctor prescribed Nicole with a medication called Ambien, but after having a bad reaction to it, she began taking melatonin instead. 

About a year later, however, and while researching REM sleep and frequencies that help get to that state, Nicole came across a video about something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ‘ASMR,’ and since then, she’s been able to drift off to dreamland much quicker than ever before. 

“I just happened to stumble upon ASMR, and I said, ‘Wow, what is this?’” Nicole recalls. “I kept looking further into it and found a lot of ASMR videos, and little by little, they really started to help me. Now I can’t fall asleep without it.”

According to the ASMR University’s website, which focuses on the art & science of ASMR, what’s been dubbed as a phenomenon by many is described as a state of deep relaxation triggered by certain stimuli, depending on the person.

That may include sounds like whispering, blowing, or speaking softly, tapping, scratching, crinkling sounds, certain types of music, or slow hand movements, visuals like repetitive tasks, close personal attention either in person or on video, or real-life experiences like receiving a foot, scalp or body massage, getting a haircut, having hair brushed, or being touched or rubbed lightly.

For others, it could include fidgeting with uniquely textured or shaped items like Rubik’s Cubes, slime, kinetic sand, Legos, etc., or additional noises like lip smacking, chewing, page turning, typing, and more.

ASMR sensations people may feel include physical ones like “light and pleasurable tingles, sparkles, fuzziness, or waves of relaxation in the head, neck, spine, and throughout the rest of the body,” in addition to psychological sensations like “deep and soothing feelings of relaxation, calmness, comfort, peacefulness, restfulness, or sleepiness,” the website reads.

Nicole says the tingles she experiences are kind of like goosebumps, but last longer. “The tingling definitely starts around my hairline, then I can feel it all over,” she adds.

According to known research, not everyone can experience ASMR. But for those who can, it has the potential to ease insomnia, depression, anxiety, pain, and panic attacks, and may have added benefits for individuals with conditions like autism or sensory issues.

“Different things trigger the tingles and that helps you relax,” Nicole says, explaining that when personally trying to fall off to sleep, she enjoys auditory ASMR triggers like crackling fireplaces and thunderstorm/rain scenarios, soft whispers that talk calmly about relaxing and drifting peacefully off to sleep, as well as visuals like soft green and blue lighting.

“It all depends on the person. My daughter has sensory issues, and she loves all kinds of different textures, like fuzzy things and play dough.”

Even before the term ‘ASMR’ was purportedly coined in 2010, there were videos on the internet focusing on the unnamed feel-good sensation. On YouTube today, there are loads of people (‘ASMRtists’)    some with quite a large following – who record tingle/relaxation inducing videos and plenty of styles to pick and choose from, including select ones geared towards children, which could prove beneficial when trying to get a little one to wind down and sleep. 

In some areas, venues like whisper lodges or sensory rooms intended to spark ASMR have even popped up.

Still, though ASMR has become a little more mainstream, many people may not be aware that there’s a name
or term for the tingles they
are experiencing. 

All they know is that they like the feeling and are willing to pay a pretty penny to experience it at places like spas, hair salons, massage rooms, nail salons, etc. 

Just ask Andrea Aumann, the lead aesthetician at J. Sterling’s Wellness Spa in Clermont.

Andrea, who has been in the business for more than 15 years, says when she is giving people facials or scalp massages, she can visibly tell when people reach a deeply relaxed state, and oftentimes, can actually see “goose bumps” pop up on their arms, neck, shoulders or arms.

“I incorporate a lot of pressure, I rub a lot, I massage the scalp using different scented oils, and people love all this,” Andrea says, explaining that although she is not an ASMR expert, she gets how what she does plays a role in inducing ASMR sensations.

During each session, Andrea works on creating the perfect ambiance in the room to promote relaxation with elements like speaking softly, warm water and steam, dim lighting, a heated bed and towels, scented oils, activating acupressure points for scalp massages, and more.

Siara Seese, a massage therapist and colleague of Andrea’s at J. Sterling’s, familiar with ASMR, says the tingly feeling of the goose bumps people oftentimes experience while getting any type of massage, a facial or other service, is very similar to the tingles they feel when listening to ASMR videos.

“I think a lot of ASMR videos include spa stuff for that reason; the steam, the massaging, the smells, the soft touching,” she says. “The spa world is a whole other world. It’s a calming peaceful place, and it makes you feel like a celebrity, like luxury, and if you experience ASMR while here, even better.”

Max Thakar, who with his wife Tina, own J. Sterling’s in Clermont (and other locations throughout Florida) says he is happy to know people enjoy the spa services they offer, and any ASMR experiences that result from them.

“I get facials too and when I feel goosebumps, I love it. I feel like I’m relaxed and getting a nice treatment and it’s totally worth it. I also feel that whatever the treatment is, it’s actually working when that happens,” Max says. 

Serenity Wellness Spas’ Owner and Massage Therapist Sandra Vela agrees, adding that ASMR is an added bonus to the services they offer. 

“What happens is that I will just be working on a client super easy, doing my normal routine, whether it’s a foot or back massage, or something else, and all of a sudden, you can feel their goose pimples just rise right up,” Sandra says. “I think it’s just a really cool thing that happens with the majority of my clients.”

“The spa world is a whole other world. It’s a calming peaceful place, and it makes you feel like a celebrity, like luxury, and if you experience ASMR while here, even better.”

—Siara Seese

Other day spas, like Essential Therapies in Mount Dora, besides the many services of all kinds they offer, developed a Restorative Rain Massage that commonly triggers ASMR, whether it gives people “the tingles,” or simply relaxes them completely.

Elaina Eller, the spa director there, describes it as “a Swedish massage treatment using essential oils that are drizzled along the back and spine, accompanied with feathering massage strokes,” which oftentimes cause guests to experience goosebumps, or tingles.

The nine oils used for the massage are drizzled onto the back one by one in a specific order and each one has a purpose as follows: 

  • Basil: mental clarity/ aids in respiratory health
  • Birch: relieves joint pain
  • Blue Tansy: soothes nervous tension/ anti inflammatory
  • Cypress: analgesic/ anti inflammatory
  • Peppermint: mental focus/ aids in respiratory health
  • Marjoram: calm mental state and elevates
    mood/ anti spasmodic
  • Oregano: aids in healing wounds/ antibacterial
  • Thyme: anti bacterial/ antioxidant
  • Synergy blend: lime, lemon, fir needle – releases
    tension in mind and body

“The oils used have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and pain-relieving effects. This treatment influences the autonomic nervous system’s reaction to stress and aids in achieving mental reprieve and peace,” Elaina says.

Sometimes, Elaina says she almost gets goosebumps in response to watching others get them, but most of all, she finds it very satisfying to be able to relieve people’s stress, anxiety, and just watch them fall into a more relaxed state of mind.

“That’s what we do, that’s what we’re here for, just to kind of take you out of your mind, get you to feel good and calm down,” Elaina says. 

Shelly Evey, a hair stylist and salon coordinator at Michael’s Couture Salon in downtown Leesburg, says many of her clients over the years, have deemed her hands magic because of the scalp massages she is known for.

“With everybody so busy with their everyday lives and everything going on in the world, I always try to allow a little bit of extra time at the shampoo bowl to try to make my clients feel relaxed and let their worries just go down the drain,” Shelly says, adding that she can see and feel people’s goosebumps on occasion. “I definitely focus on massage before their haircuts, and just getting them nice and relaxed, and sometimes I feel like I need to wake them up when I get done.”

Shelly adds: “I’ve had clients say they’d book an appointment just for that if they could.” 

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About the Author: Roxanne Brown

Originally from Nogales, Arizona, Roxanne worked in the customer service industry while writing independently for years. After moving to Florida in 1999, Roxanne eventually switched her career path to focus more on writing and went on to become an award-winning reporter for The Daily Commercial/South Lake Press newspapers for 16 years prior to coming on board with Akers Media as a staff writer in July 2020 – her dream job come true.

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