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This paper considers slotted duty-cycled medium access control (MAC) protocols, where sensor nodes periodically and synchronously alternate their operations between active and sleep modes to save energy. Communications can occur only when nodes are in active mode. The synchronous feature makes these protocols more appropriate for delay-sensitive applications than asynchronous protocols. With asynchronous protocols, additional delay is needed for the sender to meet the receiver's active period. This is eliminated with synchronous approaches, where nodes sleep and wake up all together. Moreover, the contention-based feature makes the protocols - considered in this paper - conceptually distributed and more dynamic compared to TDMA protocols. Duty cycling allows obtaining significant energy saving vs. full duty cycle (sleepless) protocols. However, it may result in significant latency. Forwarding a packet over multiple hops often requires multiple operational cycles (sleep latency), i.e. nodes have to wait for the next cycle to forward data at each hop. Timeliness issues of slotted contention-based MAC protocols are dealt with in this paper, where a comprehensive review and taxonomy is provided. The main contribution is to study and classify the protocols from the delay-efficiency perspective.