Chronic insomnia is an inability to fall asleep and stay asleep and lasts for longer than a month. It affects 1 in 10 Americans. Possible causes include stress or hormone factors.
For decades, people have been trying to cope with this disorder - from taking sleeping pills to counting sheep. But now, thanks to sleep whisperers, there is a new way.
Ilse Blansert, a Toronto native, is a sleep whisperer and part of a growing phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR).
ASMR is a response to visual, auditory, olfactory, and/or cognitive stimuli and can be felt pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body. Though controversial, it is appealing to many because, unlike pills or therapy, it is free.
"It has to do with the combination of sounds and voices," Blansert said. "I'm not convinced that it works. It actually works."
Blansert's videos alone have accumulated over 16 million views.
"It is quite believable to me that somebody says that is works better than a sleeping bill for me," says sleep specialist Dr. Amer Khan.
"It brings me comfort that I can't find in other things," says Emily Hanson, a follower of Blansert's videos.
The first time Hanson watched a ASMR video, she said it was "one of the most euphoric experiences" of her life. "I didn't know what is it was, but I was hooked."
According to Yahoo News, the videos consist of Blansert whispering, tapping on items, pouring water, and gently rearranging items (such as crayons) to help put her viewers to sleep.
“I think...it has to do with the combination of sounds and voices. It’s a calming relaxing voice because if it’s too fast you don’t really have a chance to experience those tingles,” she said.
Lindsey Davis of ABC asked Blansert if the videos could be addicting.
“You can become addicted in the sense that you really want to watch it every night," she said, but "If you give yourself an over-kill of those types of sounds you’ll become immune to it, which basically means that if you watch the video, you aren’t going to experience tingles anymore.”
"There are no true bad physical effects of this kind of activity on the body," Dr. Khan said. "It's not extremely unhealthy to do something like this but what it's really doing is taking you away from the real issues that you're dealing with, which is how to turn off your mind, how to feel relaxed at the end of the day."
For more information, visit Blansert's YouTube channel.
Image via YouTube