Celia Bernhardt’s iPhone alarm buzzes at 6 a.m. Twenty or 30 minutes later, she drags herself out of bed, gets dressed, eats breakfast and is off, racing to make her first-period class by 7:30 a.m.

Two months into the school year, the Nyack High School freshman is still adjusting to her new morning routine. Last year, at Nyack Middle, school started at 8:04 a.m.

“I usually get maybe seven, maybe 6-1/2 hours of sleep a night,” the 14-year-old said. “On a good week I’ll get eight; once in a blue moon, nine.”

Community View: ‘Start high school later so kids get sleep’

Normally a straight-A student, Bernhardt said the effect of this new norm on her grades is frustrating.

“A few times I’ve had to pry my eyes open in class,” she said. “On a bad week there’s not even a hope of me absorbing the information.”

A growing body of research points to the physical, mental and academic benefits of delaying school start times for adolescents, most of whom do not get the 8-1/2 to 9-1/2 hours of sleep recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

An estimated 40 percent of U.S. high schools start before 8 a.m., according to the AAP. The organization released a policy statement in August recommending that middle and high schools delay the first bell until at least 8:30 a.m. to ensure adolescents get the sleep they need.

Many public high schools in the Lower Hudson Valley start between 7:30 and 8 a.m. South Orangetown is one of the outliers, where high school students begin their day at 8:15.

The district conducted a yearlong analysis and community survey before deciding last year to delay the high school’s first bell by 40 minutes. The middle school will follow suit next year.

“We have some anecdotal evidence that kids were coming in less tired and more alert for their first-period class … and there were fewer late arrivals,” said schools Superintendent Ken Mitchell.

Parents who are part of a burgeoning movement in the Lower Hudson Valley to push back school start times are urging school boards to heed the research.

The campaign

Jeffrey Rose of Nyack, a clinical hypnotist and nutritionist who treats sleep problems in adolescents and adults, started a Rockland County chapter of the national Start School Later campaign about a year ago as he noticed more parents bringing sleep-starved teens into his office in September.

Sleep deprivation has negative affects on stress levels, short- and long-term memory, the immune system and mood, Rose said.

“It’s like a kid having jet lag every single day of the year,” he said. “If you’re not sharp in school, it doesn’t matter how good the teacher is, you’re not retaining (the information).”

Rose and his wife have daughters who are 3 and 6; the older one goes to Upper Nyack Elementary. He jumped into the movement because he didn’t want to wait until they get to the upper grades to try to change the status quo, he said.

Other Rockland, Westchester and Putnam districts may move toward a post-eight-o’clock start, but not before weighing the factors that can complicate the decision — such as busing and sports schedules, safety and afterschool child care.

Nyack Superintendent James Montesano said the district has had informal discussions and will likely “look at the feasibility” of setting a later high school start time.

“I think there’s some validity to the idea of time and how it affects kids,” he said. “The next question is, let’s look at all the various implications … transportation, start times in (elementary and middle) schools. … You know you don’t want elementary kids standing on the street corners when it’s dark out.”

“My son was straight As in math his whole life, so it’s something I knew had to do with the time of the class,” said Salvatore, who is director of the Pediatric Center at Greenwich (Connecticut) Hospital.

She got 100 people to sign a petition for the school board to take up the matter last year, and wrote to state officials, to little avail.

Angela Bernhardt hired a study skills tutor to help her daughter Celia, the struggling Nyack High freshman.

“It’s going to have an impact on her performance and there’s just no doubt,” Bernhardt said of the 7:30 a.m. bell. “We’ll just have to deal with what we deal with.”