The pain is a product of our uterus contracting as it sheds its lining. However, that isn’t the only factor that makes this unwelcome monthly guest such a nuisance. There’s also the sweating, bloating, fatigue, lethargy, tenderness of breasts, mood swings, and, of course, back pain to deal with. That’s a longer list than what most insurance companies try to stick into their conditions apply!

The point is, periods suck. We may not always succeed in making them any better, but could we be unknowingly making them worse? Certain habits and food can lead to even more (gasp!) painful periods. Here, we have 8 very such traitorous things that have been making you see red in more ways than one:

1. Lack Of Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is essential for the regulation of your sex hormones. Not enough sleep could set your system off, producing possibly irregular and (yikes!) longer periods. If that wasn’t enough to get you off Facebook before bed, there’s more. If your body doesn’t receive 6-8 consecutive hours of restful sleep, stress levels could increase, which would contribute to even more pain. Apparently, hell hath no fury like a body scorned of sleep.

2. Not Enough Exercise

When you’re squirming with that period pain and all you want to do is just lie there and die, don’t. Think twice. Your lack of movement may actually not be the most helpful. Instead, if you exercise in moderation and not be extreme (don’t go Arnold Schwarzenegger on us!), you can expect an increase in your blood flow. This can aid in decreasing stress, which can make the period days a little more bearable.

3. Caffeinated Drinks

Your body’s response to caffeine depends entirely on you, but a majority of women experience more pain during menstruation with the greater consumption of caffeine. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, more than one or even one caffeinated drink each day could raise your risk for PMS (you know the time of the month when you act like a what rhymes with witch) by 30%! Less is more when it comes to coffee.

4. Stress

Stress by itself is anyway a pain. Combine it with your period? Yeah, not fun. Stress is responsible for lowering your pain threshold, making you even more sensitive to menstrual cramps, painful aches, and much more. How to cope? Well, try activities that are known to bust stress. They may sound hyped, but trust us, meditation, art, reading, and yoga actually work. Get some soul food for that foul mood! (Author’s note: Ignore the bad rhyming.)

5. Smoking

According to a survey conducted by Mental Daily, apparently close to a whopping 70% of women stated that smoking those cancer sticks (read: cigarettes) was one element that negatively impacted their PMS the most. Also, if lung cancer wasn’t enough of a deterrent for you, evidently heavy smokers are a demographic that seem to experience menstrual pain and cramps more profoundly.

6. Alcohol

Alcohol is responsible for not only dehydrating you but also exhausting your magnesium levels that can worsen any existing painful PMS symptoms. On the whole, alcohol isn’t the best for your body (read: understatement) but a night of over-imbibing can lead to you waking up with awful symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, and, of course, a hangover that could make that crimson tideway more unbearable than it has to be.

7. Sugar

A large tub of chocolate ice cream may be your go-to comfort food when the cramps get you, but sugary treats can increase your insulin levels, which can disrupt the estrogen-testosterone-progesterone balance in your body. This can lead to anger, irritability, and mood swings that worsen your time of the month. If sugar is what you crave, don’t lose hope yet. Solution? Go for healthier options such as granola, fruits, peanut butter or dates.

8. Salt

Though getting enough fluids into your system to rehydrate your body is tremendously important, it is also important to avoid foods that possess a high salt content. Even more so, when it comes to that obnoxious bloating (aka the bane of your menstrual existence), salt can lead to water retention, which can only make matters worse. During your periods, say no to salt and yes to water. If water ain’t your poison, go for juices, smoothies, teas or even flavored water. The point is to get enough fluids, but beware of the sugar.

All in all folks, menstruation will always be a metaphorical and physical pain for a woman. And her immediate family and friends. And her twitter followers. But though it may be a burden, it doesn’t mean it has to hurt unbearably every time. Avoid these Hateful Eight (no we didn’t mean the movie), and the next time your period comes around, you may just smile right through the end. (Or grimace. It also depends on pain thresholds after all.)