I had a similar problem with my new HP Pavilion Desktop with Vista. After the computer went to sleep, I could not wake it up and, like you, was forced to reboot. No keystrokes or mouse clicks would have any effect on the black screen. Oddly, this coma-like sleep usually occured only on initial boot-up when I did not respond to the group(Administrator) icon within a few minutes. If I did respond right away to the group icon and clicked on my user name, I got the Welcome screen and normal operation. Then, after X amount of disuse, the computer would go into the sleep mode and could be awakened with any key stroke or mouse input. So, the permanent sleep condition seemed to be related to my not clicking the Group User icon in a timely manner during initial boot-up.
I just discovered that if, during this black-out, if I select CTL, ALT, DEL, it awakens the computer and returns me to the Desktop screen and normal operation without having to reboot. I get no error messages asking whether I want to close a failed program nor any warning that a program has stopped functioning. I hope this helps.
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