Two goals in the opening four minutes from Raul Garcia and Diego Costa got Atletico off to a flying start and Diego Godin added a third in the second half to seal a morale-boosting victory for Diego Simeone's men.
Atletico's confidence had been rocked by a 5-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-finals and a shock 2-0 reverse at Almeria last weekend, which knocked them off the top of the Primera Division standings.
A home fixture with struggling Valladolid was just the tonic the Rojiblancos needed, and it took them just three minutes to go ahead.
Gabi stood over a free-kick but instead of whipping the ball into the box, squared to Garcia, and the midfielder sent his first-time shot past Diego Marino.
Valladolid sought a quick response but were caught on the counter, Garcia playing a long ball over the top to Costa, who lifted his shot over Marino to make it 2-0.
The two early goals settled the hosts' nerves and they were more than content to sit on their lead for the remainder of the first half.
But Valladolid were unable to break their opponents down, which in turn meant Atletico had fewer opportunities to counter.
The best opportunities for the visitors fell to Javi Guerra early in the second period, and Manucho in injury time, but neither player was able to hit the target.
Mario Suarez came close to grabbing a third for Atletico, his header striking the crossbar, before the hosts did add another goal when, in the 74th minute, Godin appeared at the back post to head in a corner from Diego Ribas, adding an extra shine to a much-needed win that turns the heat up on title rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The top three all started the weekend level on 57 points, with Atletico now waiting to see how Barca and Real get on in their matches against Rayo Vallecano and Getafe, respectively.
At the other end of the standings, Valladolid remain 18th and could be further away from safety by the end of the weekend.