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It's possible that your computer froze during sleep. First, unplug the power cord, (with the cord removed) press the power button for 10-20 seconds. PS: You will lose any unsaved data prior to sleep mode. Let me know if this doesn't resolve your problem, might be something major.
I find sleep mode nothing but trouble, eventually corrupts window files over extended use, go into power options, go to stand by and select never and click apply, next go to hibernate "top right" and click, make sure the check box is clear, if not! remove check and click apply and restart your laptop.
You should be able to just press the main system unit power button to wake up your 'sleeping' computer which will then resume your Windows desktop and bring you back to the Login panel if you have a password set for your account.
I would need some more information to completely help you. When you say you walk away and the pc shuts down and starts back up, does it close down (reboot) or does it go into screen saver / sleep mode? What button did you push for the power button light to blink? Have you put the PC into sleep / hibernation mode by pressing the power button once.
Try hitting the "Windows" key on your keyboard to bring it out of sleep mode. The "Windows" key is generally found on the bottom row of the keyboard, near the Alt and Ctrl keys, and it has no letters on it, just the Windows logo. That key brings my Windows Vista machines out of sleep mode when other keys won't.
As for the power button, anytime you need to force a computer to turn off, you can press and hold the power button to do so. Usually, you need to hold the power button for 5-10 seconds and it will shut down. Use this option with caution, as it turns the computer off without running through the shutdown process and can cause you to lose data.