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ASMR sleep influencers gain popularity, scrape a living in Vietnam

ASMR sleep influencers gain popularity, scrape a living in Vietnam

Thursday, July 04, 2024, 12:45 GMT+7
ASMR sleep influencers gain popularity, scrape a living in Vietnam
Phan Thi Ngoc Giau, a 27-year-old resident of Hanoi, smiles during a live session. Photo: Supplied

Sleep influencers, a relatively recent addition to the live-streaming ecosystem and a growing global trend, are gaining traction in Vietnam and becoming a lifeline for some.

Every night at 11:00 pm, Phan Thi Ngoc Giau lowers the lights in her room in Hanoi, sits down, and turns on her camera.

Spread out on the desk in front of her and a shelf next to it are all manner of objects, from pens and books to paint brushes, plush toys, and snacks — plus, of course, the microphone.

For the next two or so hours, the 27-year-old woman will live-stream herself doing things that range from the mundane to the bizarre.

She might squeeze slime, apply make-up, drop eye drops, or spray water into a plastic bag to mimic the sound of rain falling outside.

Everything she does is designed to create sounds that trigger the ‘tingles’ associated with the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).

In ASMR live streams, noisy interactions and loud talking are restrained to avoid startling viewers who are on the verge of sleep. 

Occasionally, during these tranquil hours, Giau softly whispers to interact with her audience.

When some viewers send her digital gifts in the live sessions, she graciously expresses gratitude with a heart-shaped gesture.

Along with captivating sounds, Giau’s live streams feature soothing music to enhance viewer relaxation. 

Thousands of people tune in for Giau’s calming live streams on TikTok every day.

Even first-time viewers of her live sessions often find themselves falling asleep to these unique sounds, sometimes dropping their phones on their faces in the process.

As the night progresses, viewers gradually dwindle around 1:00 am, with most drifting off to sleep while some linger until she bids them farewell.

A demanding, detrimental, moderate-paying job

Giau’s seemingly simple actions require skills and hard work. 

Regardless of the props used, all sounds must maintain a rhythm and moderate volume, avoiding exaggeration.

“To create good and pleasing sounds, I’ve studied various techniques from international sources and then experimented to find what works best,” Giau said. 

“I adjust the sounds until they are good enough to go live.”

Phung Minh Hau, a 29-year-old resident of Long Hai Town in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, southern Vietnam, during a live session. Photo: An Vi / Tuoi Tre

Phung Minh Hau, a 29-year-old resident of Long Hai Town in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, southern Vietnam, reacts during a live session. Photo: An Vi / Tuoi Tre

Among the sounds she creates are ocean waves crafted from modeling clay, sea breezes simulated with towels and brushes, and even the sound of ear cleaning, ingeniously made using plastic wrap and cotton buds.

Giau dedicates 30 minutes daily to learning English, essential for interacting with her foreign viewers. 

This has helped the 27-year-old improve her English command.

Before going live, Giau often spends extra time putting on pretty make-up. 

Few people know that behind her glamorous appearance online lies someone who struggles with insomnia due to the necessity of cleaning up after the live sessions, gathering all her tools, and completing her make-up removal routine, which may last until 3:00 am.

The woman said that this work has completely altered her daily routine.

“While others are asleep, I have to stay awake,” Giau said. 

“When others are waking up, I’m going to bed. 

“On top of that, I often experience stomachaches from skipping meals and eating late.”

Doing ASMR live streams as a sleep influencer brings Giau’s primary source of income, thanks to donations from appreciative viewers, advertisements, and monetization through the platforms she uses.

But for those considering a career switch to this live-streaming field, experts warn it is not as lucrative as headlines might imply.

In fact, those making videos on TikTok are generally earning about four cents per 1,000 views, according to ABC News, and the platform also takes a cut of the digital gifts viewers give.

“The people who are actually making a lot of money are in the vast minority,” Edith Hill, an associate lecturer in the Center for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at Flinders University in Australia, told ABC News.

It also is the case in Vietnam.

For Vietnamese sleep influencers like Phung Minh Hau, a 29-year-old resident of Long Hai Town in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, who owns a TikTok account with approximately 780,000 followers, the monthly income averages more than VND10 million (US$393). 

While this figure may not seem significant for many professions in Vietnam, it is a lifeline for Hau, who suffers from kidney failure and was previously unable to work. 

Live-streaming as a sleep influencer now enables him to earn money regularly to finance his treatment and provide for his family.

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Bao Anh - An Vi / Tuoi Tre News

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