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In this paper we analyze a contention-based medium access control (MAC) protocol for clustered self-organizing wireless sensor networks (WSNs). Starting from the cluster-based routing protocol LEACH B, recently presented in the literature (A. de Pedri et al., 2003), we propose a carrier sense multiple access protocol, that controls the access to the wireless channel requiring low complexity mechanisms. An OMNET++ platform is used to simulate a WSN composed of several tens of nodes, accounting for routing, MAC, physical, energy and propagation aspects. After a thorough analysis of the results we achieve, we propose an ON/OFF modality to reduce energy waste due to idle listening. Our simulations prove that this solution increases system lifetime.