The excessive harddrive activity would halt my host operating system and prevent hibernation from working (causing me to nearly miss my train station several times!)
Luckily, someone's found the solution to fixing this problem by setting some hidden configuration options.
Open up your "guest.vmx" file in Notepad and paste the following lines at the end of the file.
mainMem.useNamedFile = "FALSE"This has stopped the excessive harddrive activity on my laptop and I have been able to get off the train on time =)
prefvmx.useRecommendedLockedMemSize = "TRUE"
prefvmx.minVmMemPct = "100"
[ Source ]
For more configuration options, see this link.