There is no worst thing than not being able to sleep. Many of us struggle with it on a daily basis, whether we work full times jobs or study, we have all had one of those long endless torturous nights when sleep just does not seem to come. I have those nights more than I would like, to the point where it affects my ability to think, converse and get basic things done.
Over the last few years, I have tried it all. From being prescribed sleeping pills that would make me sleep into the afternoon and make me feel horrible after, to melatonin that makes me have weird nights to valerian root, which proved to do nothing beyond make me even more tired. Even with all the options available, sometimes our bodies are incapable of shutting off. I happen to be one of the unluckiest when it comes to sleep, juggling between insomnia and sleep procrastination, with one night proving more difficult than the next.
Insomnia and sleep procrastination are very different. Insomnia means that even if you’re tired, you’ll toss and turn all night, unable to let sleep come even into the late hours of the night. Sleep procrastination, I have learned, is a form of self-torture. This is when you feel tiresome, your eyes get heavy, and you feel like you could fall asleep the second your head feels the pillow. Yet, you can’t bring yourself to leave your desk, close your laptop, accept defeat in your attempt of pulling an all-nighter to finish assignments or even get yourself to stop organizing and cleaning your house. This usually happens when it feels like there were not enough hours in the day to get what you wanted to get done, done. This happens to me if I procrastinate in other areas of my life. If I don’t start an assignment until the day it is due, or let the piles of clothes overflow my chair until I can’t find it anymore.
In attempts to fix my horrid sleeping schedule, I tried changing my night routine more times than I can count. First, by leaving my phone across the room, doing a skincare routine and tucking myself in with no distractions. This technique proved the least effective because you learn, if you are anything like me, that your brain can be an endless pit of fake scenarios and dark thoughts. I could easily stay awake until the sun rose just thinking of thinking scenarios that may or may not ever happen and torturing myself with old memories. Secondly, I tried watching Netflix. Since this is something I do during the day, every day, my body could not tell the difference between 4pm and 4am if Netflix is playing. Another bust. Thirdly, I tried reading books. This is an effective method for many people but as someone who struggles with sleep procrastination, I found that if I started a book before going to sleep, I was not going to let myself sleep until I finished it.
The last method I tried was the one I was the most skeptical about, as most people still are. It’s called autonomous sensory meridian response, or popularly known as ASMR. Through YouTube videos, people put together specific sounds that cause a tingling sensation in the scalp and down your neck, according to your bodies preferred triggers. It provides the listener with a sense of calm and relaxation and can go as far as making the listener fall asleep. There is a stigma surrounding ASMR and the belief that it is meant to be sexual or comical and there are definitely aspects of comedy in some videos, especially eating videos with aggressive mouth and chewing noises. However, there is nothing sexual about it.
Another thing ASMR often mimics is attention – someone giving you a facial, someone telling you everything will be ok, someone touching you, someone giving you a very gentle French lesson. It is imitation of intimacy & genuine attention & interest.
— Orphic Inscendence (@OInscendence) March 24, 2021
It is proven to help with mental illnesses and restlessness, which I can attest to. There are a variety of different triggers that affects everyone differently such as whispering, tapping, ripping paper, popping noises, hair brushing, etc. Not every sound will appeal to everyone, and I have heard from people who claim they don’t feel anything when watching ASMR. So, If this is something you want to try for your troubles, sleep wise or mental health wise, go into it with an open mind or it might prove to be ineffectual. It is a lot like how music can drastically help with your mood, except ASMR provides an overwhelming sense of calm. Since all the videos are done in whispers or soft voices, there are no harsh noises to startle you during your relaxation and some videos can run as long as 10 hours long, so you can listen to is all night long.
Watching ASMR in bed has proved to be the most effective method in helping me sleep and I have stuck by it for years now. I still feel embarrassed from time to time to admit to I watch ASMR to sleep and to relieve stress but due to its effectiveness, I cannot pretend to recommend anything different. After a few minutes of the tingling sensation, once maximum relaxation has set in, I will fall asleep with the lights on, phone in hand and video still playing in my ear.
ASMR does not claim to cure insomnia or any mental health issues and most people who make ASMR videos still encourage their viewers to seek professional help. However, it is something that alleviates some of those struggles and its accessible and free to everyone which is a plus since some people cannot afford to seek professional help. While others have found professional help to be unhelpful, like myself, ASMR is a great alternative to medication and sleeping pills.