If your nightstand is littered with melatonin, CBD gummies, magnesium supplements, NyQuil, Benadryl, Ambien and the like, it might be time to explore the bottle-free, National Sleep Foundation-approved method of snooze aid known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR.
ASMR may sound like some sort of a fetish, and for the uninitiated searching it on YouTube for the first time, it can look like one, too. In reality, however, ASMR simply (or, maybe not so simply) describes the tingly feeling produced for some people by certain sounds. Content created for the purpose of provoking this response, which can aid in relaxation and enable sleep, can be audio, visual, or both in nature, and it tends to features what’s known as a “trigger”, or a combination of triggers, such as someone whispering softly, the soft tapping of long fingernails, the crinkling of paper, or etc.
While there are hundreds of ASMR videos on YouTube, it’s not always the ideal platform for such soothing content consumption given its jarring commercial interruptions. Plus, if you fall asleep while watching, you might be rudely awakened by whatever content follows your chosen video. A number of smartphone/tablet ASMR apps solve for this issue by running video or audio clips sans advertisements and allowing you to download and save videos to your phone for offline use while also offering additional features such as the ability to create your own mix-and-match soundscapes.
The best ASMR apps for getting to sleep fast
One of the most prominent ASMR apps is Tingles, which offers free access to a limited amount of videos or unlimited access to over 1000 ASMR artists (or ASMRtists, as they’re often called within the community) for $10/month or $60/year. This not insignificant price tag funds ad-free videos, and paid users, or “supporters,” also get access to a host of additional benefits; they can download videos for offline use and access exclusive content, for example. The app also includes a sleep timer for those who don’t want to drain their battery as they snooze and allows for videos to be played through while your screen is off, should you so choose. It’s available for iOs and android.
2. Silk ASMR
If you’re not into the visuals associated with ASMR videos, Silk may be worth a download as it’s eliminated video in favor of a focus on the star of the show: audio. Instead of paying a subscription fee, the app allows you to purchase and download individual tracks—there are about 300 from which to choose. It also includes a feature which allows you to mix sounds in order to create your own unique soundscape. Silk is currently available for iOs only.
ASMRtist Gibi ASMR plans to launch this app—optimized, she says on the company’s website, for both content creators and users—in coming weeks. It promises a subscription model, so users will be charged a monthly fee for unlimited access to videos from prominent creators, some of which will be exclusive to the app and extend beyond ASMR videos to bonus content such as Q&A’s. As a result, the app will be ad free. It will also include the option to download videos and set sleep timers. Zees will be available on both iOs and android.
This ASMR app takes more of an interactive bent than do the others on this list. Basically, it offers “textures”—e.g. various slime varietals, water, bubble wrap, etc.—which you touch with your finger in order to produce the soothing (or, weird) ASMR sound associated with said texture. (There’s something oddly compelling about this experience, IMO.) Some use is free, but for a subscription fee of $9.99 a month, users can access all triggers or textures and the full suite of app features. It’s available on iOs and android.
ASMRtist is an audio-only app with a no frills approach that makes it simple and intuitive to use. Icons labeled “rain,” “fizzy drink,” “vinyl static” and more make their assigned sounds when you click them. To layer sounds, simply click select more than one icon. There’s also a shuffle mode as well as a timer feature which allows you to set the amount of time you’d like a sound to play. ASMRtist is available for iOs only.
Mindwell is a comprehensive meditation app which offers ASMR as one category among several, so it may be right for someone looking to dabble into ASMR as part of a larger relaxation routine. It allows you to select recordings based on your goals, e.g. sleep (where you’ll find ASMR), boosting mood, coping with depression or stress, dealing with challenging relationships, etc. Mindwell is available for iOs and android.
This one’s actually a podcast rather than an app. It features a very broad swath of sounds, with episodes which range from “Pen & Paper” to “Floating on a Raft in California” to “Walking around Berlin” (the latter on a rainy day). Some of the recordings are more obviously relaxing than others—I’m not sure, for example, that I can fall asleep to the sounds of a pub in Rio—but the overall concept is pretty fascinating in its divergence from the ASMR norm. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts.
Not sure about this whole ASMR thing? Try honing in on pink noise, sans silly-seeming videos, for sleep instead. Plus, get a primer on everything you need to know about white noise, too.
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