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In this paper, we propose a detailed energy survey of the physical, data link, and network layer by analytical techniques. We also show the impact of regular sleep periods on node energy consumption and present a comparison analysis of single-hop vs. multi-hop communications in the energy realm. A detailed energy expenditure analysis of not only the physical layer but also the link and network layer provides a basis for developing new energy efficient wireless sensor networks. Regular, coordinated sleeping extends the lifetime of sensor nodes, but systems can only benefit from sleeping in terms of transmitted packets if the data arrival rate to the system is low. Energy efficiency is the driving motivation for it can be considered the most important factor for wireless sensor networks because of the power constraints set by battery operation. Radio solutions in the lower ISM bands are attractive because of their relatively easy implementation and low power consumption. However, the data rates of these commercial radios are also relatively low, limiting transmittable frame sizes to a few tens of octets along with strict duty cycle requirements. From the analysis we extract key parameters of selected MAC protocols and show that some traditional mechanisms, such as binary exponential backoff, have some inherent problems. We also argue that single-hop communications has up to 40% lower energy consumption than multihop forwarding within the feasible transmission distances of an ISM radio.