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'I accept that it's really weird' - Norwich YouTuber becomes internet sensation from ASMR whispering videos

PUBLISHED: 12:37 09 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:49 09 March 2019

Norwich YouTube star Sophie Moates uses many different objects and soft whispering to create a relaxing feel to her videos. Picture: Sophie Moates/YouTube

Norwich YouTube star Sophie Moates uses many different objects and soft whispering to create a relaxing feel to her videos. Picture: Sophie Moates/YouTube

Archant

It is an internet phenomena in which millions of followers spend hours watching peculiar videos of people whispering, tapping and even chewing.

ASMR - autonomous sensory meridean response - is a new YouTube trend which has taken the world by storm, with even Netflix, KFC and rapper Cardi B jumping on board.

It is described as a physical tingling sensation which begins in the scalp and moves down the spine and is triggered by certain sounds.

Fans of the trend rely on the videos to feel relaxed and fall asleep, with some reportedly watching ASMR to cope with depression and anxiety.

Norwich YouTube star Sophie Moates creates ASMR videos as her full time job. Picture: Neil DidsburyNorwich YouTube star Sophie Moates creates ASMR videos as her full time job. Picture: Neil Didsbury

And one Norwich YouTuber is one of those making noise on the ASMR scene.

Sophie Moates has carved out a career as an ASMRtist in the last three years.

The 22-year-old has nearly 95,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel ASMRplanet, with her most popular video - of her delicately applying make-up on a doll’s head - racking up 5.8m views.

“I do accept that it’s really weird,” she said. “Some people don’t get it at all.”

Sophie began making ASMR videos in 2017 while she was in her final year at the Norwich University of the Arts studying a design degree.

She found herself falling down the YouTube rabbit hole until eventually clicking on a video of a person opening and closing a Kinder egg.

Norwich YouTube star Sophie Moates creates ASMR videos as her full time job. Picture: Neil DidsburyNorwich YouTube star Sophie Moates creates ASMR videos as her full time job. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“Some people said in the comments it was like ASMR and I thought what the hell is that?” She said. “Then I realised it was the feeling I had been experiencing for years.”

A number of comments on her videos reveal how much viewers rely on them to be able to fall asleep, with some even stating it helps with their anxiety and depression.

Sophie said she used to suffer from severe anxiety as a child, to the extent where she would give presentations to her classmates from inside a cupboard with the door ajar.

“I was in Carrow Road with my dad and he said ‘this is how many people watch your videos’, and it’s weird to think I couldn’t even talk in front of 15 people in school,” she said.

Sophie is now a full-time YouTuber after giving up her previous job of creating album art covers to focus solely on filming two videos an evening.

She did not want to reveal how much she earned from her videos, but said: “I’d get paid about £350 for an album art cover but that would take me two months to do, whereas I can make the same from two videos which I can post in one week.”

Norwich YouTube star Sophie Moates creates ASMR videos as her full time job. Picture: Neil DidsburyNorwich YouTube star Sophie Moates creates ASMR videos as her full time job. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Does ASMR have any basis in science?

With millions of people watching ASMR videos to fight off stress and anxiety, scientists have begun to look at the inner workings of the brain to see whether ASMR has any bearing in science.

Despite its clinical-sounding name, autonomous sensory meridian response is term coined by Jennifer Allen, an American woman who worked for a cyber security firm in 2010.

Its physiological effects of relaxing and relieving stress has never been explored until recently, in one of the first studies of its kind at the University of Sheffield in 2018.

Researchers found those who experience ASMR had significantly reduced heart rates compared to those who did not feel the ‘brain tingles’.

Dr Giulia Poerio, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, said: “Lots of people report experiencing ASMR since childhood and awareness of the sensation has risen dramatically over the past decade due to internet sites such as YouTube and Reddit.

“However, ASMR has gone virtually unnoticed in scientific research which is why we wanted to examine whether watching ASMR videos reliably produces feelings of relaxation and accompanying changes in the body – such as decreased heart rate.”

She added: “What’s interesting is that the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants was comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness.”

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