The phrase 'Good night, don't let the bed bugs bite!' is based a little more on reality these days.

"There's a tremendous increase in bedbugs in the United States and other parts of the world. Many different studies show a three, four, 500 per cent increase in reports of bedbugs or reports of bedbug infestations," says Dr. Jerome Goddard.

Dr. Goddard knows a lot about these tiny, human blood suckers, and understands their resurgence is most likely due to international travel, immigration and changes in pest control practices.

"They're parasites, they suck blood, so they're brought into someplace in someone's luggage or belongings, they start living there it has nothing to do with how clean you are," he says. Some of the cases I've investigated, they've been five-star hotels."

But for all that's known about bed bugs, there is still much that's unclear.

"We're not absolutely sure how folks react to bites because it's so unusual that we get large numbers of them into the clinic to study," says Goddard.

Some scientific papers say that bed bugs transmit human diseases, some say they don't. Some people say you're supposed to throw out the mattresses when there's an infestation of bedbugs, some people say you don't.

In an attempt to shed some more light on these nocturnal pests, Dr. Goddard analyzed research from over 50 related investigations. His findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"These research findings show one, there is little evidence for human disease transmission by bedbugs," he says. "Two, human bedbug bites range in reaction from none to coetaneous to occasionally or rarely systemic. And lastly, pest control of bedbugs or eradication is problematic. Its not impossible, but certainly difficult."

So while the red bumps and itching appear to be more nuisance than health hazard, experts agree a good look at the mattress you're about to sleep on is the best way to ensure that you wake up bed bug bite-free.

With a report by CTV British Columbia's Dr. Rhonda Low