Whereas many older portable Macs would sleep almost as soon as you closed the cover, and would wake up nearly as quickly, the most recent batch of portable Macs introduced a new feature called hibernate. This mode saves the contents of RAM to your hard drive. This is useful because if you totally lose power, you'll be able to restore the state of your machine by reading the contents of RAM from your hard drive.
With the increasing amount of RAM you can have in your Mac, this process can take a while. Fortunately, a handy little prefpane called SmartSleep can fine-tune this behavior to your liking.
Smart Sleep Prefpane
Smart Sleep allows you to choose one of four sleep modes. The Mac's default behavior is sleep and hibernate, which will save the state of the machine both in RAM, as well as disk. You can also choose sleep, where the machine state is saved in RAM only. There's also hibernate only, where the state will only be saved to disk.
Finally, there's Smart Sleep, where the machine will sleep and hibernate when below the sleep and hibernate level you set, sleep only if battery charge is above the sleep and hibernate level, and hibernate only if the battery charge is below 5% or less than 5 minutes. For the curious, you can also make some of these settings via the "pmset -hibernatemode" command in the terminal, but who wants to muck around with the terminal when you can use a prefpane which is free?
So make sure your Mac sleeps in the most efficient manner possible, and give SmartSleep a try today! Have any other gadgets that make your Mac more efficient? Send an email to John and he'll give it the ol' college try.