IELTS Model Essay: Lack of Sleep

This IELTS model essay is on the topic of sleeping. It’s an IELTS Problem Solution essay question from the General Training Test. It is taken from Cambridge IELTS 15.

Nowadays many people complain that they have difficulties getting enough sleep.

What problems can lack of sleep cause?

What can be done about lack of sleep?

(Cambridge IELTS General Training 15 Test 2)

In this lesson, I will take you through my 4 Step Planning Process for this essay, I will show you my completed essay. After that I will give you a list of the useful vocabulary I used in the essay and finally I have an activity for you to try. Enjoy and I hope you find it useful!

Tired woman photo created by jcomp –

My Plan

Step 1: Understand Task

The task is asking you to write about 2 things:

Firstly, you need to write about the problems caused by lack of sleep. Many students will read this question quickly, and they will see the word “cause”, and then they will write about the causes of lack of sleep (e.g. drinking too much caffeine, using their phone late at night, etc).

The wording of the question is certainly tricky. The question says: “what problems can lack of sleep cause?” Another way of wording this question is: “what problems are caused by lack of sleep?” So the task statement is saying that the the cause of the problems is lack of sleep, but you need to say what those problems are. In other words, the task is NOT asking you about the causes of lack of sleep, but the consequences.

Secondly, you need to suggest some solutions – “what can be done…?” – to the problem of lack of sleep.

Step 2: Decide Position

Your position is simply your answers to the 2 questions.

Personally, I think this:

Problems caused by lack of sleep:

  • poor concentration
  • poor health
  • bad mood


  • medication
  • evening habits

These are my main ideas.

Step 3: Extend Ideas

Now I need to expand these ideas.

Problems caused by lack of sleep:

  • poor concentration
    • lack of sleep affects concentration
    • major problem in jobs requiring concentration, e.g. doctors, drivers
  • poor health
    • body needs sleep to rejuvenate
    • lack of sleep can help cause diabetes, cancer
  • bad mood
    • irritability


  • medication
    • drugs (e.g. temazepam), hormones (melatonin), herbal (chamomile tea)
  • evening habits
    • wind down in evening, read, relax, avoid screens

You will see that I’ve already used some high level vocabulary in my plan above: e.g. requiring concentration, rejuvenate, irritability, medication, chamomile tea, wind down. The planning step is a good time to think about words and phrases to help you to explain your ideas.

Step 4: Structure Essay

I’m going to use a simple 4 paragraph structure:

  • Paragraph 1: introduction
  • Paragraph 2: problems
  • Paragraph 3: solutions
  • Paragraph 4: conclusion

But it would also be fine to split paragraph 2 and  3 into shorter paragraphs. It really depends how long each paragraph will be.

So here is my final essay…


People are increasingly reporting difficulties sleeping, often as a result of our modern 24/7 lifestyle. This essay will consider the problems caused by lack of sleep, along with some solutions.

Lack of sleep obviously causes tiredness, but perhaps more importantly, to reduced ability to concentrate. When tired, the brain will struggle to focus for any length of time and this can be a serious issue for workers who need to concentrate intensely, such as drivers and doctors. Sleep also helps the body to rejuvenate and heal, so anyone who gets inadequate sleep may start suffering from poor health. Indeed, studies show that lack of sleep may contribute to diabetes and cancer. In addition to physical health, failing to get a good night’s sleep can also affect your mental health. Tired people are more prone to irritability and a short temper.

A couple of broad solutions may help people who can’t get enough sleep. The first is medication. Powerful drugs like temazepam can assist people in getting to sleep, while levels of the natural sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, can be taken in tablet form. But even herbal remedies can help: a drink of chamomile tea in the evening, for example, can help ready the body and mind for sleep. A second, and perhaps better, solution, may be to develop evening habits that prepare you for sleep. People need to wind down and relax during the evening if they are to get to sleep properly, so we should avoid computer screens or any activities that may stimulate the brain. Reading a good novel can be one of the best sleep aids for many people.

To conclude, lack of sleep can impact both physical and mental health, but medication and a relaxing evening routine can help overcome the problem.

(295 words)


I used a lot of natural, precise vocabulary in my essay, along with many complex structures. Here is a list of some of the words and phrases I used:

  • reporting difficulties sleeping
  • our modern 24/7 lifestyle
  • reduced ability to concentrate
  • struggle to focus
  • for any length of time
  • a serious issue for
  • workers who need to concentrate intensely
  • helps the body to rejuvenate and heal
  • inadequate sleep
  • failing to get a good night’s sleep
  • irritability
  • a short temper
  • people who can’t get enough sleep [Note: this is an example of a defining relative clause – the information after ‘people’ is essential to understanding who I am talking about]
  • medication
  • powerful drugs
  • the natural sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin
  • tablet form
  • herbal remedies
  • a drink of chamomile tea
  • ready the body and mind for sleep
  • habits that prepare you for sleep
  • wind down
  • avoid computer screens
  • activities that may stimulate the brain
  • physical and mental health
  • overcome the problem


Now try out this activity!

Without looking at the essay, try to fill in the blank spaces.

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 2

The missing words

Paragraph 3

Paragraph 4

About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

1 thought on “IELTS Model Essay: Lack of Sleep”

  1. Thanks for the carefully crafted activities.

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