Sleep is important. Are you getting enough?
(700 words)
IELTS Reading Questions:
Matching Information & Summary Completion

A  There are reasons you feel so good when you wake up from a long, restful sleep, but for many people getting enough sleep can be difficult. So what is happening when you sleep? Why is it important? And what can you do to ensure you get enough?

B  There are five stages of sleep: when you fall asleep, you go into stage 1, which is light sleep and quite easy to be woken up from, then you move into stage 2, 3, and then 4, with each stage getting progressively deeper. After about 1.5 hours you go into another stage called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when most dreaming happens. This cycle happens around 5 times per night.

C  If we take eight hours per night as the average amount of sleep, it means most people will spend a third of their lives sleeping. And it’s not just people; almost all animals sleep and have been doing so for over half a billion years. And considering that evolution has preserved it during this time, sleep must have an important function.

D  The main purpose of sleep seems to be to restore energy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it regulates your immune system, your temperature and your hormone levels, and gives you more energy for the next day. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker adds that sleep is also very important for learning: we need sleep before learning to prepare our brains to learn, and sleep after learning is essential for storing new memories. One of the reasons memory tends to get worse with age might be because people sleep less as they get older, Walker says.

E  In his book, Why We Sleep, Walker also says that night owls and early birds may have evolved to be this way. He explains that many years ago when we lived in hunter-gatherer tribes, having a mix of night owls and early birds meant that more people would have been awake more of the time to protect the group, and therefore the tribe would have been more likely to survive. Our sleep cycles do change with age, however. The natural cycle of teenagers is to go to bed later and wake up later, and then, as we get older, this cycle gets earlier and earlier. Given how important sleep is, Walker suggests that perhaps schools and employers should consider these facts when designing schedules.

F  Most people need 7-9 hours’ sleep per night, according to Walker. Others say 6-8 is enough. However, many people get less than this, and there is a price to pay for this sleep deprivation, Walker says. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will be more forgetful and have problems learning new things, and a constant lack of sleep increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Walker considers sleep to be so important that he has started requesting that doctors prescribe it to patients.

G  So how do you ensure that you get a good night’s sleep? Walker is against the use of sleeping tablets or alcohol, but at the back of his book he offers 12 tips for sleeping better. These include going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, sleeping in a cool room, doing regular exercise (but not before bed), spending some time outside in natural sunlight each day, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or evening as it can take a long time for the effects of that cup of coffee to wear off.

H  If you have worries or things on your mind that might keep you awake, Walker suggests writing a ‘worry journal’ one or two hours before going to bed. Taking a few minutes to write down your worries can help get them out of your mind so that you can fall asleep more easily. He doesn’t recommend counting sheep when you’re lying awake in bed, however, as studies have shown that it doesn’t work. Instead of this he suggests taking yourself on a mental walk – visualising yourself walking in a place you know well, such as in nature or in your town, as this seems to be more effective.

Sleep well!

IELTS Reading Questions:
Matching Information & Summary Completion.

Sources and links from Sleep

Article by The National Sleep Foundation about the purpose and benefits of sleep. 
Matthew Walker’s website. Most of the information in this article came from his book Why We Sleep.
Matthew Walker on the Huberman Lab podcast (YouTube link). This is where he talks about worry journals and not counting sheep (about 2:40). 
Matthew Walker’s TED talk about sleep.
– Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. Nart

    Good read! I really enjoyed this article. I personally like reading but find that at night time it puts me to sleep. So whenever I can’t sleep, I just pick up a book and start reading. 🙂

    1. Nick

      Hi Nart. Glad you liked it.
      Good tip for getting to sleep.

  2. Selim Reza

    Great resource for learning English.

    1. Nick

      Thanks Selim. Glad you like it.

  3. kabeer

    keep it up

  4. Zoila

    Great information. Thanks

  5. Haseeb Gill

    well done, a good effort I really like it.

    1. Nick

      Thanks. Glad you liked it.

  6. Firooz

    Great job

    1. Arezoo

      I find this article informative and fascinating😊
      It communicates in such an effective language which encourages me to be a constant fan of this website.

      1. Nick

        Hi Arezoo.
        Thanks for your kind comment.
        Hope you enjoy some more of the articles on here.

  7. Ugonna

    Great writing on the topic… God bless you. I got 9/10!

    1. Nick

      Thanks Ugonna, and well done!

  8. Aisha

    Amazing tutor

  9. Sara

    Thankyou….for your article….

  10. Sweetgirl

    I am doing your counting method and it really works. It takes a few seconds now I can sleep on time thanks for your brilliant ARTICLE.

    1. Nick

      Thanks for your comment.
      Great that it worked for you.

  11. Xue

    I really enjoyed this type of short article. I was studying then living in an English-speaking country. I tended to lose interests in reading English news or browsing social media posts. From today I decide to read from your website to broaden my vocabulary as well as pick up a good habit. Thank you so much for designing such a lovely website!

    1. Nick

      Hi Xue.
      Thanks for your nice feedback – glad you like the site.

  12. Mridula

    I generally do not read but your article is very short and fascinating. I really liked it.

    1. Nick

      Glad you enjoyed it.

  13. Kunal

    Article was good and giving an IELTS practice together is a good idea .

    1. Nick

      Thanks Kunal.

      1. Dd

        Could you explain please explain more about the question 3 I am not get it

        1. Nick

          Hi Dd. Okay.
          The information can be found at the end of paragraph E:
          ‘Walker suggests that perhaps schools and employers should consider these facts when designing schedules.’
          ’employers’ = companies
          ‘these facts’ = the information that came before in the paragrpah: some people are night owls and some are early birds, sleep cycles changes with age (this information shows that people have different sleep cycles; people are not the same).
          This equals a suggestion that companies should consider individual differences.
          Hope that helps


    Really great article that it helped to improve my vocabulary list and also IELTS questions absolutely fantastic.

    1. Nick

      Thanks Srikanth. Very nice feedback.
      There are quite a few more articles to read; if you liked this one, you might also enjoy the one about dreams.

  15. Anes

    Thanks for this article I have been having difficulty in sleeping for almost 2 months
    Now I am gonna follow the methods you have suggested
    And also I didn’t knew about the drawbacks of deficiency in sleeping as I know now I will try my best to sleep regularly

  16. Shailendra Singh

    it is good website to improve reading part of IELTS.

    1. Nick

      Thanks, Shailendra

  17. Agadhaa

    Hi, Could you please explain question 4 ?? Both C and E explain this.

    1. Nick

      Hi Agadhaa.
      Good question – that one is a bit tricky.
      The question is looking for evidence from nature about the importance of sleep.
      Paragraph C is the correct answer because it has the information that ‘evolution has preserved sleep’; that is the evidence from nature that sleep is important.
      While the final sentence in paragraph E does mention ‘the importance of sleep’, it doesn’t give any evidence about the importance (‘given the importance of sleep’ is a reference to the information that has come before). Also, although in paragraph E there is some (possible) evidence from nature, it’s evidence that people being night owls or early birds might have come from nature; it’s not evidence of the importance of sleep.
      Hope that helps.

  18. Anila

    Could you explain question 5 and how does it match B

    1. Nick

      Hi Anila.
      Sure. Maybe there are a couple of words in the question that need to be understood.
      breakdown = (from Cambridge) ‘a division of something into smaller parts’
      cycle = ‘a group of events that happen again and again in the same order’.
      The sleep cycle is the different parts of sleep that happen in the same order and are repeated through the night.
      The question is: Which paragraph contains a breakdown of the sleep cycle?
      Paragraph B describes the different parts of the sleep cycle (it is a breakdown); it tells you about the different stages of sleep (within the cycle), and it tells you that this cycle (repeats) happens around 5 times per night.
      Hope that helps.

  19. ahmet

    is this test a little bit easier than the actual exam or are they the same?
    ’cause I’ve got the best score in reading so far 🙂

    1. Nick

      Hi Ahmet.
      Well done.
      But yes, the articles here are designed to be easier than the real test.
      There is more information about that here:
      They’re good for practising your skills, but if your test is coming soon, and / or you want to get an idea of your score, you should try doing some real tests. You can get the test books from Cambridge with real past exam papers.

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