Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trouble Sleeping? Try ASMR

So, anybody who knows me knows that, for about the past year, I've been experiencing some problems with insomnia. It comes and goes, but I seem to go through a bad bout of it at least once or twice monthly, and by "bout," I mean it lasts for several nights in a row. Now, I've never had problems sleeping before (except for when I was drinking--alcohol ramped me up instead of making me tired), and since I'm a woman of a certain age, I'm guessing it's hormone related.

For a while there, I tried everything: Benadryl, melatonin, valerian, chamomile tea. Didn't work. There were a couple of times I drove in to work when I probably shouldn't have been driving, and I discovered that, after three nights in a row of insomnia, I would start hallucinating. (Once I saw a bunch of black squirrels running around in the middle of the freeway, and even I knew enough to tell myself, "Those aren't really there.") Finally I broke down and my doctor gave me a script for Ambien. It has largely solved the problem, though not always. I also only take it when I have had insomnia the night before, to ensure I sleep that night.

All of this is prelude to another thing I've discovered that helps. I started researching AMSR, which is short for autonomous sensory meridian response. You can look that up, or read about it here on Wikipedia, but basically it's a tingling sensation you get on your skull that then moves on down the back of your neck when you hear certain sounds. It's a pleasant sensation that can also lull you gently to sleep. And there is a whole AMSR worldwide community that posts ASMR videos to Youtube.

Different strokes for different folks.... certain sounds that give some people tingles don't work for me and vice versa. Some folks like tapping, whispering, mouth noises, ear cleaning, or role plays (such as a pretend acupuncturist treating you or a pretend stylist fixing your hair). None of those are ASMR triggers for me at all, and in fact, some are annoying sounds to me. I, though, can get a bit comatose listening to the sound of furniture being dusted, the sound of drawing or doodling, the sound of pages turning with very quiet reading or just murmuring, the sound of shoes being polished, and the like. On my own Youtube Channel, I have a playlist of ASMR videos that work for me.

When I'm ready for sleep, I put in earbuds, turn the light on my computer way down, and watch a few of these videos. They've been quite good at helping me relax and go into a sort of pre-meditative state. Usually I can tell I'm about to fall asleep and so will turn off the computer altogether. Other times I've fallen asleep listening to them. I'll wake up briefly hours later and then turn everything off... or just let the videos keep going on autoplay. I've never had trouble getting back to sleep.

Just thought I'd put this out there in case I have any readers who occasionally have sleep problems and haven't given this a try.

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