Watching These Thai Cooking Videos Is the Only Way I Can Get to Sleep

Don’t knock it till you try it.

February 18, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

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Like many people who’ve reached the threshold of quarter-age, I can no longer get a decent night’s sleep. Be it lying awake with my eyelids jammed shut until 2 a.m., or a case of 4 a.m. anxiety, it’s a genuine struggle to get a fulfilling 8 hours.

I’ve tried lots of things to combat my sleep woes: I’ve had Alexa play me thunderstorm sounds, I’ve followed along with sleep meditations on YouTube, and I’ve literally counted more sheep than I care to admit (it helps if you picture the little numbered Serta sheep floating through one by one, by the way). When those methods didn’t work, I turned to over-the-counter drugs like melatonin, which I built up a tolerance to eventually, and didn’t love the idea of needing drugs every night to fall asleep anyway. It’s an expensive habit, if nothing else. I’ve also tried substances only legally available in a handful of states, but even that is very hit or miss.

There is one thing, though, that helps me fall asleep almost unfailingly: FinFin Cooking, an Instagram account I came upon one day through the Explore Tab.

If you’ve heard of ASMR, you’ll likely not be surprised by my gravitation toward these videos. ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is a tingly, euphoric sensation in the body that’s triggered by certain sounds or visual stimuli. Think: someone reading a story in a quiet voice, the sound of a clicking keyboard, or even the gentle chewing and rustling of a snack bag.

In the past few years, YouTube and Instagram have exploded with accounts dedicated to ASMR, from eating to soap cutting, and W Magazine even has a series dedicated to celebrity ASMR, so you can relax while listening to Salma Hayek eating tostadas.

While I don’t believe FinFin Cooking was created to serve the ASMR community, it’s been a staple in my bedtime routine for at least a year now. The videos are simple: two hands hover in the frame, chopping garlic, grinding chiles, and cooking all manner of Thai dishes. But the sounds … the sounds are just lovely.

A sharp knife slicing through a head of onion, the burbling of frying oil as a piece of battered fish goes in, the gentle scraping of a wok with a wooden spoon—it’s making my eyelids flutter just to think about it. The sounds are delivered with such crispness, they must be using professional mics to capture the experience. What’s more, most of the videos have a sweet, melodic backdrop, looped with the sound of birds chirping.

In sum, I’d love to shake hands with the creator of FinFin cooking, because they’ve gifted me with quicker sleep and the knowledge that I, too, can become a master of red curry paste. I just need a mortar and pestle.

Do cooking sounds relax you, too? Let us know in the comments below!
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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Jenni L. July 21, 2021
omg I thought I was the only person who was like this - whenever I can't sleep, I watch videos of Korean / Taiwanese street food vendors. all the chopping and sizzling noises put me right to sleep!
dtremit February 19, 2020
Also worth checking out Hidamari Cooking on calm and sleep inducing!
Kala B. February 18, 2020
You should watch Liziqi's videos on YouTube. Absolutely beautiful!