Niagara Gazette

July 14, 2013

VINCENT DAVIS: Insomnia and the struggles of superheroes

By Vincent Davis II
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — For generations pop culture has been obsessed with the myth of the superhero. Children and adults alike spend time wondering what it would be like to stand alone in the face of insurmountable odds, fighting off evil and maintaining a secret identity.

For those of you with an insatiable desire to know what it’s like to be set apart and hold the great responsibility that accompanies power, I have news for you, it is possible. But like all dreams, glimpsing the life of a superhero is not easy because for most of us the closest we will ever get to knowing what it’s like to be a superhero, is suffering from chronic insomnia.

According to the National Institute of Health and a PDF file I found on the “Dr. Phil” website; insomnia affects about 10 to 15 percent of adults. I’d have to imagine that this number closely mirrors the number of mutants in the “X-Men” universe. I say “imagine” because I don’t feel like letting the NSA know that I’m Googling “nerd stuff,” but I digress.

Much like the X-Men, Spider-Man or teenage Superman, people who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation walk through life with a heavy weight on their minds. It may not be the knowledge that the world is on the edge of destruction or the fear that your loved ones are in danger from unseen enemies, but the constant question of ‘will I sleep tonight, or just watch Oxy-clean infomercials until 5 a.m.?’ always running through their head as they suffer the silent pain of loss that drives all heroes; truly missing the original Billy Maze versions of the commercial.

Shakespeare famously said “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players …” If this is true, superheroes are the Daniel Day Lewises of the world — constantly hiding a lifetime of fights and battles from the public as they try to focus on their day jobs as reporters, photo journalists and millionaire playboy weapons inventors.

Anyone who has slept less than six hours in two nights or has ever had to work after completing an overnight ‘30 Rock’ marathon on Netflix can attest to the fact that going through such a day is like being Daniel Day Lewis starring as the titular character in a play called ‘A regular day as Daniel Day Lewis’ that is staged in the real world without anyone in the audience becoming aware that what they are watching is an act.

Having to look into someone’s eyes in the office and appear to be genuinely listening when everything inside of you is screaming “put on pajamas and go to sleep immediately” is a near Herculean task of will power and theatric face work deserves an Academy Award.

People with jobs are working more hours than ever, those of us without jobs know what it’s like to slowly fall out of step with the schedule of the real world as more of our days and nights aren’t spent watching marathons of ‘The Real World’ on Amazon Prime.

According to the Dr. Phil-pdf mentioned earlier, 63 percent of us are sleeping less than the doctor recommended eight hours. We’re all adults capable of making our own health decisions, but to paraphrase Spider Man’s ever wise and constantly being murdered in TV and movies Uncle Ben: with great power comes great responsibility and with a great number of cable channels playing infomercials from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. comes a great number of Sham-Wow’s, Slap-chops, and at-home french fry machines.

Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. He can be contacted at