Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
A few nights ago during my nightly TikTok scroll, I stumbled upon a video from user @charlesgross, who arguably has one of the most soothing voices on the app. As he listed off positive affirmations to his more than 500,000 TikTok followers, I found myself feeling more at ease, relaxed and, well, calmer.
TikTok does not have the best public image—and rightfully so. Users have criticized the app for promoting eating disorders, being too addictive, and suppressing the content of Black creators, among other concerns. However, beyond this (very fair) criticism, some TikTok creators are helping users become more relaxed and less stressed by putting their own twists on guided meditations and autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) content.
Aiden Arata, a TikTok creator, posts guided meditation videos on the app—but they’re not your typical meditations. Arata makes meditations centered on hyper-specific everyday life events—whether it’s shopping for candles at T.J. Maxx or waiting for your pasta water to boil. It’s a combination of ASMR and meditation—a completely new kind of guided meditation. And users love it.
On Arata’s meditation on waiting for pasta water to boil, one user comments, “WOW THIS SOOTHED ME MORE THAN MY PARENTS EVER HAVE OMG.” “I can’t tell you how much I needed this,” writes another. Scroll through the hundreds of comments on Arata’s videos, and you’ll see a lot of this sentiment.
ASMR finds a home on TikTok
ASMR is a sensation that arises upon viewing or listening to a particular activity. It can vary person to person, but often people describe ASMR as a soothing or relaxing feeling spurred by a random sound. On TikTok, ASMR content is everywhere. The hashtag #ASMR has 169.5 billion views, and the hashtag #asmrsounds has 13.1 billion views.
The TikTok user @whisperingwillowasmr built an entire brand around ASMR content. The 23-year-old makes a variety of different ASMR-style videos, often fulfilling requests from her followers. In her videos, she interacts directly with the viewer, whether through speaking, hand motions, or pretending to do your makeup. All of these interactions underscore the wide range of ASMR requests she receives.
If you find yourself watching a few of these and suddenly yawning, you’re not alone. Many users comment that they use these ASMR-style videos to peacefully fall asleep. In a piece investigating the connection between ASMR and sleep, the Sleep Foundation noted that ASMR activates the parts of the brain associated with sleep hormones. Over 80 percent of ASMR watchers or listeners engage with ASMR content right before bedtime.
So does that mean TikTok should be your go-to app before bedtime? Possibly—if you’re sticking to this type of content and limiting the time you’re consuming it. While you may be surprised how quickly you drift off after a 3-minute ASMR video, for better sleep on the regular, it’s always better to detox from your devices before hitting the hay. That’s the thing about TikTok—more meditations will be waiting for you in the morning.
See also: 15 Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better