Major Camila de Ocampo, "La Comandante", wakes with a start. As she's been trained to do when coming out of stasis, she flexes each muscle, beginning with her toes until she finally finishes by raising and lowering her eyebrows. She continues the stasis emergence process, as her muscles seem to be working properly. Careful not to over-exert herself, she removes the monitors and IVs and steps out of the chamber. Has it really been 13 years already? According to the display in the room, they left Earth orbit only 5 years ago. Despite her confusion, she initiates the emergence process for the rest of her team.
As implied in the text above, the setting is a long spaceflight. The characters will be on a large colony ship for about 15 years, cruising around $\frac23c$ to their new home on Tau Ceti e.
The time in suspended animation will be over a year less than the entire journey: they won't be in stasis while the ship is accelerating/decelerating to and from its cruising speed, which takes about 7 months on each end (if you're interested, the ship's acceration rate will be $10.1\ m/s^2$, or $1.03g$, to account for the low tolerance humans have to acceleration).
With the exception of rotating groups of technicians and pilots, everyone aboard the ship to Tau Ceti e will be in suspended animation, to make the journey more pleasant (read: less susceptible to mutiny).
How can I implement believable suspended animation?
Some things to consider:
- Suspending animation: can this be chemically-induced, or will some more complicated process be required, such as replacing the colonists blood with some cooled liquid?
- Effects during the suspension: what biological processes will need to be maintained? What are the minimum caloric requirements? Can all of these processes be addressed through IV's and dialysis?
- After they emerge: How badly will muscles be atrophied? Can this be alleviated during the suspension with electric stimulation? Will the colonists emerge with caveman body hair and fingernails that are out of control? Would they be able to self-emerge, or would they require human/robotic assistance?
These are only some considerations I've thought of; I'd love to hear about any others. I'd like as much fact-based detail as you can give me, but seeing as how this technology isn't practical yet, I understand that some amount of speculation is necessary.