Chill Chat

What Sarah Michelle Gellar Can’t Sleep Without

The actor shares her no-frills approach to taking care of herself.

Sarah Michelle Gellar posing in a red dress with a collage background
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

In Chill Chat, Bustle sits down with stars to chat about all things wellness, from their favorite workout to their hacks for getting a good night’s sleep. Here, Sarah Michelle Gellar shares her favorite wellness advice and the one thing she can’t fall asleep without.

If you don’t know Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you likely are on the other side of an impenetrable generational divide. Gellar — legal last name Prinze, as in Freddie Prinze, Jr., her I Know What You Did Last Summer co-star to whom she’s been married for 20 years — is iconic for delivering the most quintessentially ’90s quips while kicking vampire ass. (One representative zinger: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”)

While she wouldn’t share Buffy’s wellness routine with me — more on that later — Gellar, 44, takes her health seriously. A lifelong asthmatic, she’s partnered with pharmaceutical company Teva to raise awareness about inhaler misuse through a campaign called Inhaler Tales. “One thing that I’ve learned [as an asthma patient], even more so in this last year and a half, is that you have to be your own advocate,” Gellar says.

Self-advocacy also played a significant role in the actor’s career — specifically, when it comes to protecting work-life balance. Below, Gellar shares her views on making time for yourself, Starbucks secret menu items, and the weird wellness trend she’s happy to skip.

You left Buffy after Season 7, saying that you needed a break. What has rest meant for your career?

When you get burned out, you’re not putting on your best performance, your best emotion, your best anything. I had hit that point where it was a chore to get up every morning. I didn’t want that for a character in a show that I loved that much. Now, we talk so much about work-life balance and that didn’t exist then. Even today, IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union that represents TV production crews] is still fighting for things that I fought for then, like the fact that we never had enough turnaround [between production days]. I always say actors have it pretty easy — we get to go to our air-conditioned trailers, but the crew are on their feet on set from the beginning to the end of the day.

I’m so glad you brought that up. Thinking back to that time, is there a wellness routine you and Buffy would have had in common?

You know she’s not real, right?

[Dies of embarrassment.] What’s your go-to self-care practice, then?

Sometimes, I’m so tired at the end of the day I just want to go to bed, but I have to take time for myself to take a bath, read a book, or catch up with my friends so I don’t lose myself in the minutiae of the day.

What’s something you need to get a good night’s sleep?

I can sleep anywhere if I have this weighted sand eye pillow. I was traveling once, and TSA took it away from me. I was devastated. The anxiety of going to sleep without it was very difficult for me. I also need it to be cold. I cannot sleep if I’m too hot.

Let’s pivot to your morning routine. What does that look like?

Coffee. Sometimes a little Stevia and that’s it. It makes up for my daughter. She orders those ridiculous Starbucks secret menu things and I’m, like, mortified. I’ll just take my iced coffee. I pretend I don’t know her at Starbucks.

Harsh, but fair. What about exercise?

I've been very into PLATEFIT — I love the movement of the power plate. I also do Studio MDR in LA. They jerry-rigged a traditional Pilates machine to make it impossibly hard. I also like cardio with the dogs.

Living in LA, is there a weirdo wellness trend you’ve always wanted to try?

I’m not into fads so much. I’ve lived my whole life without steaming my vagina, so I can continue in that area.

What about a piece of wellness advice that’s stuck with you?

I’m not big on advice because everyone has opinions, and what works for one person may not work for another, but there was one piece of advice I got when I had my first baby. It’s to add “for now” to the end of every sentence. You can tailor it to anything. Like, my baby won’t eat — for now. I’m not sleeping — for now. I have a lot of anxiety — for now. Things will end. Who knows, maybe something worse will come along, or maybe you’ll feel better. But when you add "for now” at the end of a sentence, it reminds you that what’s happening is just for this moment.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.