You read Goodnight Moon six times before you tuck your kids into bed. When you finally hop into your own bed, you’re exhausted, but transitioning from wake to sleep—no matter how much magnesium oil you spray on your feet—isn’t an on-and-off switch. You could really use your own Goodnight Moon reading. Maybe we never outgrow the need to be rocked to sleep in the arms of a caregiver as they gingerly guide us from one plane to the next, but, it’s kinda an awkward request, no? Enter: the adult bedtime story.
Be sure, this is nothing new. Thanks to the TV and internet, we have been enveloping ourselves in the warm glow of the velvety calm voices of Bob Ross and various QVC hosts for quite a while now. Maybe you, like me, cued your iPod Mini up to hear Terry Gross or Ira Glass whisper sweet NPR nothings in your ear. In fact, it was a This American Life episode that first introduced me to ASMR. Reporter Andrea Siegel spoke about her discovery in the March 29, 2013 “Tribes” episode in a segment titled “A Tribe Called Rest”:
So I googled ASMR, which led me knowyourmeme.com. And an entry for ASMR that reads, "Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a term used to describe a sensory experience characterized by a tingling sensation in the head and scalp, which can be triggered by sounds like whispering or brushing, and visual stimulus like painting or drawing." It continued. "On YouTube, the phenomenon inspired the creation of whisperer videos, in which people attempt to trigger the viewer's ASMR by speaking in a soft voice and making various sounds with inanimate objects."
One of the whisper video creators Siegel referenced was Maria Viktorovna, aka GentleWhispering. At the time of publication, Viktorovna, who, according to Siegel, “does the most compelling napkin-folding video I've ever seen,” had 77,000 subscribers. A decade later, the ASMRtist’s YouTube channel is up to 2.24 million. In a 2014 Washington Post profile, Viktorovna shared how she’s received thank-you messages from viewers with anxiety, stress or sleep disorders.