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We provide an analytical framework for preamble sampling techniques for MAC protocols in wireless sensor networks, from which we derive closed-form formulas for lifetime and reliability calculations. In addition to take into account transmitter behavior that controls the form and the content of the transmitted preamble, our model also considers receiver behavior that controls the duration of preamble reception in case of successful and failed reception. Along with both transmitter and receiver behavior, our model considers a non-perfect channel and thus takes into account the impacts of transmission errors and retransmissions on lifetime and reliability of preamble sampling protocols. Numerical results show that no protocol is universally optimal; that is, each protocol has its own optimal operation point that depends on the given channel and load conditions.