health

The surprising music genre that's currently taking off on Spotify.

Image via iStock.

Spotify has released the latest data on what its 10 million+ paid users are listening to and it’s definitely not what we expected.

Turns out people aren’t flocking to the Top 40 hits, New Indie Finds or even Beyonce’s Greatest Hits (we know, it’s hard to believe); they’re specifically looking for relaxing music.

The music streaming website reported that the fastest-growing music category is the freshly named “environmental/sleep/relaxative”, with nearly 300 albums added in the last week. Turns out 11.6 per cent of all new albums on Spotify (while data was being collected) fell into that relaxation category.

Plus, they’ve reported that users of the streaming service have compiled more than 2.8 million “sleep-themed playlists”.

Yep, it seems we’re no longer listening to music to get the party started, instead turning to the tunes to send us to sleep. And it could have some benefits.

“We are so used to instant gratification and getting a fast response from technology and our brains can get wired to keep looking for more and more stimulation,” explains Positive and Coaching Psychologist Sarah-Jayne Whiston.

With so much going on around us, we look to slower, soothing sounds to relieve anxiety and calm us down. (Post continues after gallery.)

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A 2008 study published in the The Journal of Clinical Nursing found that listening to soothing music significantly reduced the levels of stress, anxiety and depression in pregnant women, while other studies have identified music’s ability to improve the body’s immune system function, as well as being more effective than prescription drugs at reducing anxiety before major events like surgery.

According to Dr Yuliya Richard, Director and principal psychologist at Blue Horizon Counselling, we get these same benefits in our everyday lives when we listen to calming music.

“Bear in mind that it does have to be soothing music – quiet, 60-80 beats per minute, a soft tone a regular rhythm, and non-dramatic. Loud, fast, spiky music has the opposite effect of increasing our heart rate,” she says.

Calming music helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. Image via iStock.

As well as reducing stress and anxiety, soothing music has also been found to be a great aid in helping us get quality sleep, something our inability to 'switch off' makes increasingly difficult.

"By removing electronic devices and listening to soothing music about an hour before sleep-time we stop multi-tasking, reduce anxiety and can focus on the one important goal of a good night’s rest," she says.

In addition to listening to calming music, Dr Richard also recommends having a bath, doing stretches, going for a walk or dimming the lights and using candles as part of a sleep routine an hour before bedtime as ways to relax and unwind.

What do you to switch off? What's your favourite song or album to fall asleep to?

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