A first-half goal from Robert Snodgrass and a fantastic strike by Alexander Tettey sealed a vital 2-0 win for Hughton's side as they outplayed Gus Poyet's side, with the Black Cats struggling to have an impact on the game.
Marcos Alonso was sent off late on for the visitors, who remain inside the bottom three while Norwich move seven points clear of the relegation zone.
"It has been a good day for us," Hughton said.
"More important than those results it has been a good day for us here. Ultimately, the results from now until the end of the season will determined where we are and we have to make sure our results our good enough.
"It is important to have a big a gap from where we are to the bottom three as possible. Last weekend we lost and other results didn't go our way, today they did."
Hughton made five changes to the side that lost 4-2 at Southampton last weekend and he was pleased with the response as his players raced into the lead and closed the game out when necessary.
"I thought we were excellent," he added.
"We wanted a reaction and we didn't shy away from the fact we knew it was a big game. We knew it was big and I thought we were excellent from start to finish.
"They changed things and got the extra player up front. We have been good here at Carrow Road this year and haven't conceded many goals, that is equally as important."
For breaking stories and all the great banter like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tribalfootball