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I would usually have my pc on all day and fully shut it down at night time before I went to bed. I decided to put it into sleep mode instead the other day and everything was fine but when I woke it from sleep, I was presented with the blue screen of death and it started with some weird noise that sounded like some spinning part was off balance or possibly hitting something periodically. Sounds like it could be a fan or maybe the HDD. I'm not sure why sleep mode would mess up the hardware.

Anyway, now sometimes, randomly, when I turn my computer on from a previous shut down, I still get to hear the noise but the start-up is normal. Sometimes I don't hear anything for the entire duration while I have it on and sometimes it goes away after a few minutes and sometimes it doesn't and I have to restart, like it isn't going away right now. I can hear the noise as I type this. Anyone got possible solutions? I don't want to open the system and mess up other stuff. I'm also not sure if I should take it somewhere to have it fixed - it might not make the noise then and work like normal and nothing would seem like needing to be fixed.

Add: I'm running Windows 7, if that's of any relevance.

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Based on that description I would guess a fan, most likely if you just open up your computer, clean it and check that everything is securely in place it will go away.

You having put it into sleep mode is likely a coincidence.

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As far as the sound is concerned, I would recommend you to check if the fan is always on mode or silent mode. This can be done from the BIOS settings(I hope you know how to get there). If it is on the silent mode fan occasionally spins depending upon the requirement. In your case I suspect its on silent mode so you have the variation in the speed of fan and the sound accordingly. I do have the same problem, with blue screen and sometimes cannot wake it up from the sleep, I have not found the solution for it since long. For the solution I have formatted and reinstalled OS. Opened my laptop apart and cleaned fan as well as the heat-sink. Did not help much in case of waking up from sleep, but sound was little bit low.
Hope this helps.

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Yeah. When you wake up the system the CPU will briefly hit peak load and the fan will rev up, but this is not harmful to a fan in good condition. (And you'd encounter a similar situation when cold booting.) So sleeping the system was likely coincidence.

If this should happen to be a Sony laptop, be aware that some models have an extended warranty for fan noise. The details are here:

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