Pregnancy pillows and meditation don’t work for everyone. For some women the secret sauce to de-stressing and sleeping well during pregnancy are YouTube videos, and no, not the Real Housewives hair pulling kind. A new trend has women turning to ASMR videos for stress relief and insomnia antidotes.
“ASMR, stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, which is often described as a cascade of pleasant tingles that begins in the crown of the head and ripples throughout the body, instilling a sense of deep relaxation,” says Chelsea Lewis, founder of My Mummy Wisdom. “It’s a soothing triggering sound or tingling sensation that causes your brain to relax and calm.”
There are plenty of ASMRist online now helping women relax with videos like this one or this one and though they may seem odd for the uninitiated, the proof is in the pudding. “According to a study led by the University of Granada pregnant women listening to ASMR can alleviate the jittery and agitation that sometimes comes along with insomnia, a common pregnancy problem: 44% of pregnant women suffer from insomnia in the first trimester of pregnancy, which increases to 46% in the second trimester and 64% in the third trimester. And best of all, there are no medical side effects.”
ASMR might have a positive effect on pregnant women, as the hormone most closely linked to the phenomenon — oxytocin — is often elevated during pregnancy, and also plays a critical role during labour and breast-feeding. “Increasing levels of oxytocin happens naturally during pregnancy and oxytocin is the brain chemical most associated with the triggers and stimuli of ASMR. According to the Washington Post a recent study showed that ASMR activates the same areas of the brain that have long been associated with bonding and soothing behaviours. That might explain why some soon-to-be mums are turning to ASMR,” says Lewis.
There are some keys to increasing the likelihood that ASMR will work for you. “It’s important to clear your mind before listening,” says Lewis. “If you have a lot on your mind you will not be able to focus on the sounds.” She suggests taking a few minute to decompress before turning on an ASMR video. “If you don’t experience a calming sensation browse videos on Youtube, each person has different triggers: some it’s through talk, others through touch. If it’s working, you should feel a tingling sensation come over your body, similar to goosebumps or a relief/release feeling.”
Another key to success? Get you partner into ASMR – otherwise playing it while sleeping can, at the very least, take some getting used to.