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What is ASMR and why are millions watching it on YouTube?

Whether it's the sound of a whisper or running a brush through someone's hair, millions are claiming the ASMR sounds make them feel more relaxed.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Millions of people are watching YouTubers whisper, fold towels, or even read in a soothing voice to feel relaxed and get to sleep. 

These sounds and visuals are all forms of what's called "ASMR." It's an acronym for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. 

According to Sleep.org, ASMR is a "feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds."

"Basically, deep relaxation. And for some people, they'll actually feel like a tingling sensation when they hear certain triggers," explained Corrina Rachel.

Corrina Rachel is an Austin-based YouTube presenter and certified holistic health coach who makes videos for the YouTube account, "PsycheTruth."

She said people who experience ASMR may have different triggers that give them the relaxed feeling or 'tingles.'

"There are also lots of people who get ASMR from things like slow hand movements or even things like watching QVC or watching Bob Ross tutorials," Rachel said.

More than 11 million people tuned in to watch her brush someone's hair. 

"One of the theories about ASMR is that it could be a carry-over from a time in our distant past when we used to spend more time grooming each other and touching each other and taking care of each other in terms of picking out parasites or from just grooming each other's hair," explained psychologist Chance McDermott.

Watch the ASMR version of our news report:

But not everyone feels tingles or gets relaxation from watching the videos, which can make it hard to understand.

"What they've found is that, neurobiologically, people who are sensitive to having the ASMR experience, meaning you have the capacity to have this experience, maybe a bit neurologically different than people who can't have that experience," McDermott said.

Here's what we know about it so far: 

"Preliminary neurobiological research shows that parts of the brain that light up when we experience chills are similar to the parts of the brain that light up when people experience ASMR," McDermott explained. "However, in ASMR we also see parts of the brain light up that have to do with social connection and social cognition."

In the comment sections, people say ASMR has helped them overcome traumas like PTSD and that it helps with sleep disorders. 

It's helpful to know what ASMR is, but understanding it may actually help you better understand yourself, according to McDermott.

Rachel said as long as it's working, she'll continue to make videos to help people relax. 

"As a holistic health coach, I really have become, I guess, increasingly aware of all the health issues that can stem from just a simple problem of too much stress and too little sleep," Rachel said.

She said she feels as though everyone can experience ASMR, they just have to discover the right trigger. 

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