Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a term coined in 2010 to describe “sounds that feel good,” including whispering. And some are using it as an insomnia therapy, reports Penn State.

Whether there turns out to be some validity to ASMR or not, its popularity might signal something about the country’s frustration with existing methods for treating insomnia and anxiety. Yet, as Carlson notes, “often the public’s enthusiasm for a phenomenon far exceeds the eventual scientific evidence for it. One could point to the 19th-century fascination with séances or phrenology (assessing personality by measuring the skull) or the more recent excitement about subliminal advertising or subliminal messages in music recordings. The popularity of ASMR may well be a response to the desire for methods to reduce stress and anxiety, or in part fascination with a surprising, counterintuitive kind of experience reported by others.”